Supreme Court posts digital advances

The U.S. Supreme Court, preparing for a hearing that may help determine

the next president of the United States, has taken a small step forward

in the Digital Age.

On Friday, the justices will hear an appeal by lawyers representing

George W. Bush on the disputed ballot recounts in Florida — and the court

will make available transcripts of these oral arguments on its Web site

the same day.

It usually takes the court 10 to 15 days to post a transcript online.

But Chief Justice William Rehnquist broke with tradition and ordered the

transcripts posted within hours of the Friday morning hearing. The legal

briefs in the case also will be available on the {http://www.supremecourtus.gov}

Supreme Court's Web site, which was launched in April.

Additionally, Rehnquist will allow audio recordings of Friday's session

to be distributed by network news organizations — not via the court's Web

site — a spokeswoman said.

The chief justice turned down requests by CNN and C-SPAN to put a camera

in the courtroom for live coverage of the event.

The justices are considering Bush's assertion that the Florida Supreme

Court illegally allowed ballot recounts to continue beyond a deadline set

by state law. The extended deadline allowed for manual recounts to be included

in the tally to determine whether Bush or Vice President Al Gore had won

the presidential race in Florida.

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