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June 24, 2014, 2:43 p.m.
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LINK: talkingpointsmemo.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   June 24, 2014

Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall has a piece up that summarizes the issues around whether or not SCOTUSblog — the premier real-time source for news about the Supreme Court — should get credentials to cover the Senate. (The site’s application was rejected yesterday.)

When I first tried to get credentials for The American Prospect in the late 90s I was initially put off because the Prospect is a non-profit (in more ways than one, rimshot!) and thus we didn’t seem like a real news organization to them. Who were our funders? Were we stalking horses for them and so forth.

As with most of these things, sort of reasonable, except that being a for-profit doesn’t make you a more real journalism organization. And the rules of all the galleries tend to be strictly enforced except when they’re not.

[…]

So you have this perverse situation in which what is arguably and close to objectively the top source of reporting and commentary on the Supreme Court being basically the only ones who aren’t credentialed to cover it. That’s the problem with this decision. From what I can see, the rules don’t at all prevent the committee from issuing SCOTUSBlog a credential. If the rules do, then the rules are outmoded and should change.

As Andrew Jackson once reportedly said when he was a judge, “If that is the law then the law is an ass.” (Others cite other origins.) If the rules really require this outcome, then you’ve got bad rules.

For more context, see this month’s study on who gets credentials and who doesn’t (which we helped out on a little) and Laura McGann’s 2010 piece touching on similar issues.

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