D.C. Circuit To Provide Live Audio Streaming Of Nearly All Argued Cases

One of the most prominent Circuit Courts of Appeal in the nation will begin live-streaming nearly all of their oral arguments.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals announced yesterday that it would begin live-streaming the oral argument of nearly all cases argued before the Court:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal appeals court for the District of Columbia has voted to livestream the audio of all oral arguments, except when classified or sealed material has to be discussed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit made the announcement Wednesday. Chief Judge Merrick Garland said in a statement that it’s “an important additional step in bringing transparency to our proceedings.”

The court voted in December to livestream any argument on request. Same-day audio recordings of arguments had been available since 2013.

Here’s the statement by the Court:

Chief Judge Garland announced today that the Court has voted to live stream audio of all oral arguments, except when classified or sealed matters must be discussed. The Court has been live streaming audio of oral arguments upon request since October 2017. Chief Judge Garland stated that “this is an important additional step in bringing transparency to our proceedings.” 

To listen to live oral arguments, go to the Court’s website at www.cadc.uscourts.gov. On the homepage, under Live Audio Streaming, a link will be provided to access the live oral argument. If you experience problems connecting, please email li**************@ca**.gov or call 202.216.7440 for troubleshooting assistance. 

Audio recordings of oral arguments have been available online since September 2013. In addition to live streaming, audio recordings will continue to be posted on the Court’s website by 2:00 p.m. on the day of the oral argument. An archive of audio recordings going back to the 2007-2008 term is available.

To listen to audio recordings, go to the Oral Arguments page and click on Audio of Oral Arguments. You may also listen to live streaming of oral arguments from this page under Live Streaming Audio of Oral arguments.

The only cases that will not be live-streamed will be ones that may involve the discussion of classified material or arguments that may occur in a case that is under seal for some other reason. For the majority of cases, though, members of the public will be able to listen live to oral argument as it happens in the courthouse in the District of Columbia. This announcement makes the District of Columbia Circuit only the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to allow livestreaming. The other is the Ninth Circuit, which provides both live audio and when cases are being argued in a courtroom rather than over the phone (a practice that happens frequently in that circuit given its size) video of all oral arguments other than those dealing classified or restricted material.

As Jonathan Adler notes, this is a good move on the D.C. Circuit’s part and one that other Circuits should follow. Additionally, as Adler notes, its a change that is long overdue in the Supreme Court, which already makes written transcripts of arguments available on a same-day basis and posts the audio of oral argument at the end of each argument week. There’s no reason, really, why the Court can’t do the same thing with its audio stream. It would make arguments more accessable to the public, and would not be as intrusive as some Justices currently seem to believe cameras would be.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Supreme Court, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Kathy says:

    My view is that any court proceedings open to the public ought to be videotaped. Recording the audio, though a good thing, is second best.

  2. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    I’m opposed to videotaping any court proceedings, because it can put too much political pressure on the judges. Brazil has a TV channel only for Supreme Court proceedings, and that’s in part how we ended in the political mess that we are today since no Justice is willing to appear doing unpopular(Even if they are right) rulings on TV.

  3. An Interested Party says:

    ..no Justice is willing to appear doing unpopular(Even if they are right) rulings on TV.

    We wouldn’t have that problem here, as there are plenty of judges, particularly on the Supreme Court, who have no problem making unpopular rulings and probably wouldn’t even if they were televised…

  4. @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    I am guessing that Supreme Court Justices in Brazil don’t have life tenure like they do here.

    Given that, it’s more difficult to put political pressure on any Federal Judge.

    That being said, I’m not sure I favor videotaping or video livestreaming. Audio livestreaming seems like the way to go for now. If it works out okay and the Judges are comfortable with it then the program can be expanded. As it stands, with this decision only two Circuits out of 12 will be allowing audio live streaming.