SAN FRANCISCO – A federal appeals court refused Thursday to unseal video recordings of a landmark trial on the constitutionality of California’s same-sex marriage ban but said it needed more time to decide if a lower court judge properly struck down the voter-approved ban.
Siding with the ban’s supporters, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled the public doesn’t have the right to see the footage that former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker had produced with the caveat it would be used only by him to help him reach a verdict.
Chief Judge Walker “promised the litigants that the conditions under which the recording was maintained would not change – that there was no possibility that the recording would be broadcast to the public in the future,” a three-judge 9th Circuit panel said in a unanimous opinion.
The 2010 trial over which Walker presided lasted 13 days and was the first in a federal court to examine if prohibiting gay couples from marrying violates their constitutional rights.
It was open to the public and received widespread media coverage, so the recordings would not have revealed any new evidence.