A number of cases scheduled to be heard in March and April were postponed due to the pandemic, but now telephone conference availability of counsel has been confirmed for at least 10 cases, including McGirt v. Oklahoma, Chiafalo v. Washington, and Trump v. Vance. While hearing these cases, justices and counsel will participate remotely while a live audio feed will be available to news media. It is presently unknown how hearing oral arguments via teleconference will affect the date at which rulings are determined.
Fix the Court, a nonpartisan Supreme Court monitoring group, reports that 72 percent of Americans support remote conferencing for the Supreme Court during the ongoing pandemic. “The American public expects Supreme Court justices to use modern technology to continue doing their jobs,” says Fix the Court Executive Director Gabe Roth, “and that includes hearing oral arguments.”
This unprecedented move will present a logistical challenge, but is in the best interest of the justices’ health as six of the nine justices are in the most-vulnerable age group for contracting COVID-19. The Supreme Court Building remains open for essential business, but closed to the general public.
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