NEFAC, Media Groups Request Live Audio Access to U.S. Supreme Court During COVID-19 Pandemic

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |


The New England First Amendment Coalition called on the U.S. Supreme Court today to continue to make live audio access available for as long as the Supreme Court Building is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Sept. 16 letter to the Court — drafted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press — NEFAC and 50 media organizations explained that:

“Telephonic access during COVID-19 has convincingly demonstrated the public’s appetite to observe the operations of the Court and has shown that the Court can balance increased access with the integrity of its proceedings. Accordingly, continued live audio for oral arguments and the addition of live audio for opinion announcements will each promote transparency, accountability, and public confidence in the judicial system.”

During the live telephonic oral arguments in May, journalists were able to report to their audiences about Court sessions while they were ongoing, giving many Americans their first contemporaneous glimpse into how the Court operates, the groups wrote.

This access promotes an even more informed citizenry, particularly when thousands or tens of thousands of people can listen to a live argument, compared to the 50 to 100 members of the public who are able to attend an argument in person, they added.

The letter is the most recent example of how NEFAC is helping during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, the coalition has moderated panel discussions, provided resources to student journalists and educators, and has given frequent commentary to local newsrooms, among many other things.

Learn more about how NEFAC is helping during the COVID-19 pandemic here.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, WBUR, Boston University and the Robertson Foundation.