The Supreme Court is about to re-open … sort of.
After the coronavirus crisis hit, the Supreme Court of the United States suspended in-person sessions, but the court has now decided to hear arguments via teleconference for key cases, including the case to shield President Donald Trump’s finances from a Democrat probe.
Six of the nine Supreme Court justices are at risk for contracting COVID-19, especially 87-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As states move to extend coronavirus social distancing guidelines, the court has had to turn to unprecedented measures to continue their business.
Rather than meeting in person, the court will use teleconferencing between May 4 and May 13 to hear key cases on its docket.
In all, the court has scheduled arguments to hear 10 cases.
In addition to the cases that center around Trump’s financial records, the court will also hear arguments on cases centering around delegates casting their electoral ballot for the candidate who has won the state.
Everyone participating will be doing so remotely and SCOTUS announced a very rare move of allowing live feeds for the media.
Improvise and adapt
While the court has been forced to get creative in order to carry out its function for short periods of time before, this new setup is an unprecedented step for the Supreme Court.
SCOTUS arguments were held outside the Supreme Court in 2001 during the anthrax scare, but the arguments were held in another courtroom, not remotely, and returned after one week.
During the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, the court still met inside the capitol, but arguments were not held due to the outbreak. During the smallpox outbreak in the 1700s, arguments were also postponed.
However, this will be the first time that live streaming is available for arguments.
The court was initially put on hold for the months of March and May, but as the crisis sweeps through the nation, there is no clear end date. The court has not disclosed long-term plans should social distancing guidelines be extended through the summer.