NEFAC, Media Organizations to U.S. Supreme Court: Live Audio Streaming of Oral Arguments Should Be Made Permanent Practice

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |


The New England First Amendment Coalition recently joined a national effort to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to make permanent its practice of providing live audio of oral arguments before the court.

“This practice improves the quality of journalism about the Court and greatly enhances the public’s understanding of its operations,” wrote NEFAC and 62 media organizations in a Sept. 13 letter drafted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The letter is the latest call by NEFAC and others in recent years for live audio of the nation’s highest court. (See letters in 2019, 2020 and 2021.)

The Supreme Court has provided a live audio feed of its arguments for every term since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The practice has proven to be non-disruptive to the court and popular with the public, the media coalition’s letter argues.

Though the Supreme Court only sets aside 50 seats for members of the public to attend oral arguments, 100,000 people tuned in to listen to the first two weeks of Supreme Court arguments in May 2020 when the live broadcasts began. Oral arguments from the 2021-2022 term were streamed at least 3.8 million times.

“Live audio of Supreme Court proceedings unequivocally benefits the public and the press,” the media coalition’s letter concludes. “Short of providing live video of proceedings, permanent live audio of the Supreme Court’s proceedings is the best way to keep the public informed and engaged with respect to its operations.”

NEFAC is the region’s leading advocate for the First Amendment and the public’s right to know about government. All coalition briefs, advocacy letters and statements can be found 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.

Leadership Circle donors include the Rhode Island Foundation, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, and the Robertson Foundation. Major Supporters include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, Boston University, the Academy of New England Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, Genie Gannett for the First Amendment Museum, Linda Pizzuti Henry, the Champa Charitable Foundation Fund and Connecticut Public.