D.C. Circuit to Livestream Oral Arguments


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently announced that it will begin livestreaming audio of all oral arguments at the start of the 2018-19 term in September. Chief Circuit Judge Merrick Garland called the new livestreaming service “an important additional step in bringing transparency to our proceedings.”

The live audio stream will be available on the court’s website at https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov. Only those rare cases in which classified or sealed matters must be discussed will not be available through the live audio feed.

Like its sister circuits, the D.C. Circuit already maintains an archive of oral argument recordings on its website, which is available here. The archive includes recordings from the 2007-08 term to the present. The court will continue to make audio recordings available through the archive by 2:00 p.m. Eastern time on the day of the argument.

The D.C. Circuit will join the Ninth Circuit in livestreaming its proceedings. The Ninth Circuit began livestreaming video of oral argument in some cases in 2013. The Ninth Circuit now maintains a YouTube channel through which it makes video of all oral arguments available to the public. The Fourth Circuit also provided a livestream of the oral argument in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, No. 17-2231(L)—one of the so-called “travel ban” cases—on its website and permitted C-SPAN to broadcast audio of the argument live, but the Fourth Circuit has not announced plans to routinely livestream its proceedings.

The U.S. Supreme Court releases audio recordings of oral arguments at the end of each argument week. Recordings from the 2010 Term to the present are available on the Court’s website. The Supreme Court has only rarely released an oral argument recording to the public on the day of the argument. But some commentators are speculating that the D.C. Circuit’s new policy might inspire the Supreme Court to update its policies to give the public greater access to the audio of its proceedings.

Livestreaming of oral arguments not only increases the transparency of the judiciary but also provides an excellent resource for practitioners seeking to improve their oral advocacy skills.

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