The ultra-useful SCOTUSblog legal affairs website has again been denied a congressional press pass, complicating its work.
Following another hearing, the Standing Committee of Correspondents of the Senate Press Gallery this week concluded that the site “ has not shown it meets the requirements” for securing a pass. The problem, according to the press-pass gatekeepers, is that blog founder Thomas C. Goldstein is also an attorney who practices before the court.
“Law-firm partner Thomas C. Goldstein said he controls the editorial direction of the blog and determines areas of coverage. At the same time, Mr. Goldstein advocates before the Supreme Court, which is a form of lobbying the federal government,” the Standing Committee explained. “Thus, SCOTUSblog fails the test of editorial independence from any institution that lobbies the federal government because it is instead editorially intertwined with a law partner and a firm that lobbies the federal government.”
For those unfamiliar with the blog, it is the single most important site for Supreme Court new, information and analysis. Chief writer Lyle Denniston has been covering the court for more than half-a-century.
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In a statement, Senate Press Gallery Director Laura Lytle said if the law firm Goldstein & Russell “took additional steps to separate from the law firm, we would be happy to reconsider their application.”
“Thus far, it has been unwilling to change its structure to allow for editorial independence,” Lytle added. “The law firm and the blog need to be separate: they cannot share staff, phone lines, office space and above all the editor cannot also advocate on behalf of the law firm and its clients. We would want to be sure that the blog’s funding is wholly separate from the law firm and any lawyers at the firm.”