Supreme Court Puts Off Another Month of Oral Arguments

A tree blooms outside the Supreme Court in Washington on March 16, 2020.
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Supreme Court will not hold oral arguments on any cases in April, it was announced Friday, as the restrictions progress nationwide to clamp down on the spread of Covid-19.

“The court will consider rescheduling some cases from the March and April sessions before the end of the term, if circumstances permit in light of public health and safety guidance at that time,” an announcement from the court states. “The court will consider a range of scheduling options and other alternatives if arguments cannot be held in the courtroom before the end of the term.”

The release notes that the court will continue the online release of opinions from cases argued in the February term. Regularly scheduled conferences of the court will continue as well, and the court will continue accepting cases through order lists, publishing at the regularly scheduled time of 9:30 a.m. in Washington, D.C.

Friday’s announcement means rescheduling will be necessary for a few high-profile cases, including challenges from Colorado and Washington to faithless elector laws, originally scheduled for April 28. Another dispute involving the Elephant Butte Reservoir and Rio Grande Compact also will need a new argument date. 

The high court already suspended the remainder of its scheduled March arguments in response to the virus, which as of Friday evening has more than 260,000 conformed cases in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource tracker. More than 6,900 Americans have been killed, according to the same resource, which counts more than a million global confirmed Covid-19 infections.

Supreme Court oral arguments have not been delayed like this since 1918, as the nation confronted the Spanish flu pandemic. Friday’s release notes that most employees are teleworking, and the building will remain open for official business. The court has not signaled when it will reopen the building to the public.

The federal government has not signaled if it will extend a travel ban President Donald Trump instituted earlier last month, which is set to expire next weekend. Trump declared a national emergency over the virus March 13. 

Taking precautions to protect the health of Justices is extremely important for the bench, with many of its members battling their own medical issues. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a four-time cancer survivor, recently completed a round of chemotherapy last August. She turned 87 in March.

Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg did not return an email request for comment Friday.

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