American Foundation for Equal Rights

Enough is Enough: AFER Plaintiffs Oppose Further Delay of Public’s Right To Access Prop. 8 Trial Video

AFER Filing: Public Trials Are A Cornerstone Of Our Democracy

San Francisco, CA — Today the plaintiffs in Perry v. Brown, the landmark federal lawsuit that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional, filed a brief in opposition to an emergency motion for a stay pending appeal, arguing that “the public has an overriding interest in immediate access to the video recordings so that it can scrutinize for itself the full trial record as this closely watched case progresses through the appellate process.” Proponents of Proposition 8 have again asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to restrain the public’s right to see the video recordings of the Perry trial.

American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) Board President Chad Griffin said, “Dissatisfied with their unconstitutional attempt to strip gay and lesbian Californians of their fundamental freedom to marry, the proponents yet again seek to subvert the bedrock principles of democracy. The American people have a well-established right under the First Amendment and common law to access the video recording of the Perry trial. Enough is enough. What are they trying to hide?”

U.S. District Chief Judge James Ware ruled on September 19, 2011, that the video recording of the Proposition 8 trial should be released to the public. AFER’s legal team moved the District Court to unseal the video recording, citing the strong presumption of public access to judicial records and the lack of any factual evidence on behalf of proponents to keep the video secret.

Chief Judge Ware agreed with plaintiffs, stating in his decision, “Foremost among the aspects of the federal judicial system that foster public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the process are public access to trials and public access to the record of judicial proceedings.” He concluded in his analysis, “Transparency is pivotal to the public perception of the judiciary’s legitimacy and independence.”

Chief Judge Ware’s opinion was lauded by New York Times’ editorial board today.  In the piece, they eviscerated the feeble arguments of the proponents’ anti-equality agenda noting, “[Proponents] are plainly concerned that releasing the videotape will further expose the emptiness of their arguments for denying gay people the freedom to marry. But in America, potential embarrassment is insufficient ground for denying the public access to vital court records in such a momentous case.”
Also in today’s New York Times, former federal appellate judge and U.S. Solicitor General Kenneth W. Starr, penned an opinion piece calling for cameras in the courtroom of the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Starr wrote, “The benefits of increased access and transparency are many. Democracy’s first principles strongly support the people’s right to know how their government works.” Prior to AFER’s federal challenge to Proposition 8,  Starr represented the proponents  before the California Supreme Court in Strauss v. Horton.


Press Contacts:
Brandon Hersh 202.412.9766 or
Elizabeth Riel 213.785.5352 or

About the American Foundation for Equal Rights

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of the Perry case. After bringing together Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through federal district court and is now leading it through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals before the case is brought to the United States Supreme Court. The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality.