In a 17 page opinion just handed down, a 5-4 Supreme Court has granted a stay of the order below allowing same-day YouTube broadcast of the Prop 8 trial currently proceeding before Judge Walker in the Northern District of California.
It's a per curiam opinion, meaning no single justice in the majority is taking ownership of it, but it is the conservative majority authoring the opinion with the four remaining justices dissenting. From that opinion:
We are asked to stay the broadcast of a federal trial. We resolve that question without expressing any view on whether such trials should be broadcast. We instead determine that the broadcast in this case should be stayed because it appears the courts below did not follow the appropriate procedures set forth in federal law before changing their rules to allow such broadcasting. Courts enforce the requirement of procedural regularity on others, and must follow those requirements themselves.
The question whether courtroom proceedings should be broadcast has prompted considerable national debate. Reasonable minds differ on the proper resolution of that debate and on the restrictions, circumstances, and procedures under which such broadcasts should occur. We do not here express any views on the propriety of broadcasting court proceedings generally.
Instead, our review is confined to a narrow legal issue: whether the District Court’s amendment of its local rules to broadcast this trial complied with federal law. We conclude that it likely did not and that applicants have demonstrated that irreparable harm would likely result from the District Court’s actions. We therefore stay the court’s January 7, 2010, order to the extent that it permits the live streaming of court proceedings to other federal courthouses. We do not address other aspects of that order, such as those related to the broadcast of court proceedings on the Internet, as this may be premature....
In amending [the traditional no-broadcast] rule, it appears that the District Court failed to "giv[e] appropriate public notice and an opportunity for comment," as required by federal law. The first time the District Court asked for public comments was on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. The court stated that it would leave the comment period open until January 8. At most, the District Court therefore allowed a comment period spanning five business days. There is substantial merit to the argument that this was not "appropriate" notice and an opportunity for comment. Administrative agencies, for instance, "usually" provide a comment period of "thirty days or more."
Applicants also have shown that irreparable harm will likely result from the denial of the stay. Without a stay, the District Court will broadcast the trial. It would be difficult—if not impossible—to reverse the harm from those broadcasts. The trial will involve various witnesses, including members of same-sex couples; academics, who apparently will discuss gender issues and gender equality, as well as family structures; and those who participated in the campaign leading to the adoption of Proposition 8. This Court has recognized that witness testimony may be chilled if broadcast.... Some of applicants’ witnesses have already said that they will not testify if the trial is broadcast, and they have substantiated their concerns by citing incidents of past harassment. See, e.g., Exh. K to Defendant-Intervenors’ Motion (71 news articles detailing incidents of harassment related to people who supported Proposition 8). These concerns are not diminished by the fact that some of applicants’ witnesses are compensated expert witnesses. There are qualitative differences between making public appearances regarding an issue and having one’s testimony broadcast throughout the country. Applicants may not be able to obtain adequate relief through an appeal. The trial will have already been broadcast. It is difficult to demonstrate or analyze whether a witness would have testified differently if his or her testimony had not been broadcast. And witnesses subject to harassment as a result of broadcast of their testimony might be less likely to cooperate in any future proceedings.
As such, the Court granted the application for a stay of the District Court’s order allowing broadcast.
Justice Breyer, dissenting, on behalf of himself and Justices Stevens, Ginsburg and Sotomayor:
Certainly the parties themselves had more than adequate notice and opportunity to comment before the Rule was changed. On September 25, 2009, the trial judge, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, discussed the possibility of broadcasting trial proceedings both within the courthouse and beyond, and asked for the parties’ views. No party objected to the presence of cameras in the courtroom for transmissions within the courthouse, Exh. 9, p. 70, App. to Pet. for Mandamus in No. 10–70063 (CA9) (hereinafter App. to Pet.). ("No objection. None at all"), and both sides made written submissions to the court regarding their views on other transmissions....
There was also sufficient "opportunity for comment." The parties, the intervenors, other judges, the public—all had an opportunity to comment. The parties were specifically invited by Chief Judge Walker to comment on thepossibility of broadcast as early as September. And the entire public was invited by the District Court to submit comments after the rule change was announced, right up to the eve of trial. As I said, the court received 138,574 comments during that time. How much more "opportunity for comment" does the Court believe necessary....
It is particularly inadvisable for this Court to consider this kind of question because it involves local rules and local judicial administration. Here, for example, the Court decides just how a district court should modify its own local rules; in a word, this Court micromanages district court administrative procedures in the most detailed way.
Certainly there is no evidence that such harm could arise in this nonjury civil case from the simple fact of transmission itself. By my count, 42 States and two Federal District Courts currently give judges the discretion to broadcast civil nonjury trials.  Neither the applicants nor anyone else "has been able to present empirical data sufficient to establish that the mere presence of the broadcast media inherently has an adverse effect on [the judicial] process." ...
The applicants also claim that the transmission will irreparably harm the witnesses themselves, presumably by increasing the public’s awareness of who those witnesses are. And they claim that some members of the public might harass those witnesses. But the witnesses, although capable of doing so, have not asked this Court to set aside the District Court’s order. And that is not surprising. All of the witnesses supporting the applicants are already publicly identified with their cause. They are all experts or advocates who have either already appeared on television or Internet broadcasts, already toured the State advocating a "yes" vote on Proposition 8, or already engaged in extensive public commentary far more likely to make them well known than a closed-circuit broadcast to another federal courthouse.
... By way of comparison literally hundreds of national and international newspapers are already covering this trial and reporting in detail the names and testimony of all of the witnesses. See, e.g., Leff, Woman Recalls Emotional Ordeal of Gay Marriage Ban, Associated Press, Jan. 11, 2010. I see no reason why the incremental increase in exposure caused by transmitting these proceedings to five additional courtrooms would create any further risk of harm, as the Court apparently believes.
[T]he applicants’ equities consist of potential harm to witnesses—harm that is either nonexistent or that can be cured through protective measures by the District Court as the circumstances warrant. The competing equities consist of not only respondents’ interest in obtaining the courthouse-to-courthouse transmission that they desire, but also the public’s interest in observing trial proceedings to learn about this case and about how courts work. See ... also Exh. 2, at 42, App. to Pet. (statement of Chief Judge Walker) ("[I]f the public could see how the judicial process works, they would take a somewhat different view of it." "I think the only time that you’re going to draw sufficient interest in the legal process is when you have an issue such as the issues here, that people think about, talk about, debate about and consider"). With these considerations in the balance, the scales tip heavily against, not in favor, of issuing the stay.
The majority’s action today is unusual. It grants a stay in order to consider a mandamus petition, with a view to intervening in a matter of local court administration that it would not (and should not) consider. It cites no precedent for doing so. It identifies no real harm, let alone "irreparable harm," to justify its issuance of this stay. And the public interest weighs in favor of providing access to the courts. To justify this extraordinary intervention, the majority insists that courts must "enforce the requirement of procedural regularity on others, and must follow those requirements themselves." And so I believe this Court should adhere to its institutional competence, its historical practice, and its governing precedent—all of which counsel strongly against the issuance of this stay.
I respectfully dissent.