A coalition of news organizations asked [letter, PDF] the US Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday to allow live audio and video recording of the announcement of its decision regarding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder]. In its letter, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) [advocacy website] urged the court to permit members of the media to broadcast its high profile decision to the American public. Lucy Dalglish, the Executive Director of the RCFP, asserted that allowing people to watch and listen to the Supreme Court announce its decision on the health care law would greatly benefit the public:
The health care reform law deeply affects millions of Americans. There is a strong interest nationwide in the Court's opinion and any comments by a member of the Court that may accompany its announcement. Such access would allow the public to be informed of the Court's ruling in a timely manner. ... I respectfully request that the Court allow the American public the opportunity to learn contemporaneously or near-contemporaneously how it resolved one of the most significant issues to come before it in many years.The Supreme Court has never immediately released a recording of an announcement of an opinion.
The health care law has been a subject of great controversy since its passage in March 2010. In May, a group of women in Washington filed suit [JURIST report] against the state's Attorney General, Rob McKenna, saying that McKenna's participation in a lawsuit against the PPACA is preventing women from having full access to medical care. In March the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in United States Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida [materials], the suit challenging the PPACA. In January 26 states submitted a brief [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the expansion of Medicaid for the poor and disabled in the PPACA. Also in January the federal government filed a brief [JURIST report] before the US Supreme Court arguing that the minimum coverage provision of the PPACA, which requires almost every US citizen to obtain health insurance by 2014 or face a tax penalty, is constitutional. The court granted certiorari to rule on health care reform law [JURIST report] in three separate cases last November, reserving five-and-half-hours for oral argument on the issue.