Supreme Court to Hold Oral Argument in Some Cases Remotely via Telephone

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
April 13, 2020Updated: April 13, 2020

The Supreme Court announced on April 13 that it will hear oral arguments by telephone in select cases in May, including cases seeking President Donald Trump’s financial records that were postponed earlier this year due to the CCP virus pandemic.

In a press release, the court lists 10 oral arguments in 13 previously postponed cases to be heard across six days between May 4 and 13. The announcement, which has been described as an extraordinary move, depicts another way the pandemic has reshaped American society.

“In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the Justices and counsel will all participate remotely,” the statement said, adding that the argument will also be live-streamed to the media. The court’s spokesperson Kathy Arberg later told reporters that the media will also be allowed to broadcast the audio feed to the public.

Epoch Times Photo
The Contemplation of Justice statue of the Supreme Court in Washington on March 10, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Some cases listed for the special session include Trump’s appeals of three subpoena-related lawsuits in a bid to stop the House of Representatives and a New York investigation from having access to the president’s financial records, two cases on the enforceability of state laws against “faithless electors,” an appeal from the Little Sisters of the Poor on the contraception mandate, and two religious school employment cases on how much protection church schools have from government intervention when it comes to choosing teachers for their religion classes.

The exact dates the cases will be heard will be scheduled after consultation with the lawyers, the statement says.

This comes after the top court postponed oral arguments for the March and April sessions in response to the pandemic. Despite being closed, the court’s other businesses are continuing, including the justices’ private conferences that are held regularly on Fridays to consider requests such as for cases to be added to the docket.

The CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, has shown to be more dangerous to the elderly, and six of the nine justices are 65 years or older. Only Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Elena Kagan are under the age of 65. Meanwhile, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Clarence Thomas are over 70.

The court building also remains closed to the public but will be opened for official business.

As of April 13, there are more than 577,000 confirmed cases of the virus across the United States and more than 22,200 deaths as well as more than 43,000 recoveries, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.