SCOTUSBlog Denied Press Credentialing
Credit: SCOTUSBlog
April 17, 2014

Anyone who follows the Supreme Court even just occasionally has heard of SCOTUSblog. They are the first go-to to get all of the information and analysis of Supreme Court arguments and analysis with facts, rather than partisanship or opinion. Networks turn to them, as do ordinary people like me.

A couple of weeks ago there were rumbles that they were having difficulty getting their press credentials, and now there's a blog update:

Last week, the Senate Press Gallery denied SCOTUSblog’s application for a press pass, and advised us that it would refuse to renew the credential it had previously granted Lyle when it expires next month. We were disappointed in that decision, and we are grateful for the support that we have received through social media, emails, and phone calls.

We thought it would be useful to write and explain the state of play regarding our credentialing. SCOTUSblog is not now, and has never been, credentialed by the Supreme Court. The Court’s longstanding policy was to look to credentials issued by the Senate. We pursued a Senate credential for several years, modifying several policies of the blog to address concerns expressed by the Gallery. Last year, we finally succeeded – the Senate Press Gallery credentialed Lyle as a reporter for SCOTUSblog. We then presented that credential to the Supreme Court, thinking that the issue was resolved.

But the Court declined to recognize the credential, explaining that it would instead review its credentialing policy. The Court has not indicated when that review will conclude.

How this affects them going forward:

In the interim, we do have a largely uninterrupted ability to cover the Court, which has tried to accommodate the blog, despite declining to credential it. Well before the Senate issued a credential to Lyle, the Court had recognized Lyle based on his work for WBUR in Boston. That remains unchanged. Also, as an interim measure during the review of its policies, we have requested public seats for the cases that Amy is covering, and the Court has granted all those requests.

All that said, the Senate Press Gallery’s decision to deny us a credential is important to us. We wanted the credential in substantial part because we cover Supreme Court-related matters in the Senate. Most significantly, we do gavel-to-gavel, liveblog coverage of Supreme Court nominations. We also expect to cover hearings related to the Court’s budget. So those efforts are now more difficult.

I'm going to toss an idea out here. If their site name was SCOTUS Report, do you think they would have had a problem, given the accomodations made to them by the Court thus far?

I'm just guessing here, but my best guess is that there's a good deal of snobbery involved in this, and an unwillingness to recognize one of those newfangled blog thingies as a legitimate news outlet.

By the way, if you take a look at this list of so-called legitimate (and credentialed) news outlets, you'll see plenty of names on there that are put to shame by the quality of SCOTUSblog's reporting.

The only possible policy review I can imagine as an impediment is the name "blog." They should just fire up their Windows XP machines and take a look at SCOTUSblog before deciding to deny credentials, don't you think?

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