Fri, Mar 16 2012 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court said on Friday it will release audio recordings and transcripts of oral arguments in the health care challenge immediately after the March 26-28 sessions, responding to what it called "extraordinary public interest."

The court rejected a request, however, from C-SPAN, endorsed by some members of Congress, to allow video recordings of the arguments. The court has long barred cameras from its white marble setting - a practice that has drawn criticism from Congress and media groups.

Demand to see arguments in the trio of cases centering on the 2010 Obama-sponsored health care overhaul is high. The core of the dispute tests the constitutionality of a provision requiring most people in the United States to buy health insurance by 2014.

The courtroom seats a maximum of 400 and most of those seats already have been reserved for people associated with the cases or connected to the justices and other court officials.

The usual high court practice is to release audio recordings at the end of each week of arguments. In the court's announcement Friday, it said it would post the audio recordings and transcripts from the morning sessions March 26-28 by about 2 p.m. A recording and transcript of the March 28 afternoon session is likely to be available by 4 p.m.

The recordings and transcripts will be available at the court's web site: www.supremecourt.gov.

(Reporting by Joan Biskupic; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh)

© 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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