Sunday, July 31, 2005

U.S. — Listening to/Watching Supreme Court arguments The U.S. Supreme Court does not allow cameras in court, but the sound of the oral arguments is recorded. The transcripts of these recordings are made available very rapidly on the this page of the Supreme Court web site. The recordings are posted, after about one year for most cases, on another site, Oyez, where they can be downloaded in mp3 form, for the 2003 term, or listened to with RealAudio player for earlier years. For some important cases a "transcripted oral argument" is offered — while you listen, the words spoken appear below a still picture of the person who is speaking. If you click here, you can choose the "term" ( year), and then the case. You get a page with a summary of the case. On the left, under "Additional Info", you can choose "audio" or "resources" (which in addition to the audio files also has the written opinion of the Court). You will find an "oral argument mp3 file" (2003+) or "Oral Argument (Real Audio)" (before 2003) or sometimes a "transcripted oral argument". The mp3 file downloads to your computer. In addition to listening to it on your computer, you can make a copy of it and put it on your ipod or other device or burn in onto an audio CD. In the audio resources, you can also find "Opinion MP3 File" (2003+) or "oral opinion Real Audio (before 2003)" which is the voice of the Justice who announced the results in court. Very rarely, after the announcement of the opinion, you can also find a Justice expressing his/her opposition. A good example of this can be found by clicking here, in Blakely v. Washington, a case about the role of the jury in setting the punishment for a crime. We first hear Justice Scalia announcing the opinion of the court (about 6 min.), followed by Justice O'Connor who explains her reasons for dissenting (another 6 min).