SCOTUSblog — by far the best online daily reporter about cases brought to the U.S. Supreme Court — has been denied a credential for access to the court’s press gallery.
“The Standing Committee of Correspondents at the Senate Gallery has apparently denied our credentialing appeal, publisher Tom Goldstein said Monday.
The Standing Committee of Correspondents is in charge of Capitol Hill press credentials for daily publications.
SCOTUSblog’s reporter, Lyle Denniston, had been denied press credentials by the Senate and then by the Supreme Court.
“The members of the Standing Committee are traditional journalists who come from a proud and treasured tradition of complete independence from anything other than their craft,” Goldstein said.
“That is a fantastic model for journalism. But it is not the only one.”
Goldstein said he has spent several million dollars on the site, which is now sponsored by Bloomberg Law.
The Committee’s three-page letter to Goldstein was signed by chair Siobhan Hughes of the Wall Street Journal, Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post, Kate Hunter of Bloomberg News, and Emily Ethridge of CQ RollCall.
SCOTUSblog is partly known for its live-blogging from the Supreme Court. It won’t be able to continue working from the court’s gallery without the press credential.
“The Committee takes the view that the blog is not editorially independent from my law firm or from other lawyers who write for the blog,” Goldstein said.
As a consequence, the Committee found, the blog violates two independent requirements under the Committee’s Rules: any credentialed publication must be editorially independent from an organization that (i) “lobbies the federal government;” or (ii) “is not principally a general news organization.”
Goldstein said the reasons behind the Committee’s decision have broad implications for whether non-traditional media is regarded as “journalism.”
“We obviously have a different conception from the Committee on what it means to be a journalist and what it means to be independent. At some point, given that the blog has operated for more than a decade, the proof is in the pudding,” he said.
SCOTUSblog has won a Peabody Award for digital journalism and several other top prizes.
Goldstein said he’ll appeal the Committee’s decision to the Senate Rules Committee.
“We do not know how long that will take,” he said.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.