Supreme Court to Return to In-Person Arguments in October
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court said it will return to its courtroom for arguments starting in October after holding sessions by telephone for more than a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In an announcement covering its sessions for the rest of the year, the court said it will limit attendance to the justices, essential court personnel, lawyers in the argued cases and about two dozen reporters with Supreme Court press credentials. The court said it will provide a live audio feed of the sessions, which will include a high-profile gun rights clash on Nov. 3.
“Out of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees, the courtroom sessions will not be open to the public,” the court said in a press release. “The court will continue to closely monitor public health guidance in determining plans.”
The justices haven’t heard arguments in the stately courtroom since they considered a Louisiana abortion case on March 4, 2020. The arguments starting Oct. 4 will be the first courtroom sessions for Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who has been on the court for almost a year.
The telephone arguments represented a stark change for the tradition-bound court. The justices took turns asking questions, abandoning the free-for-all atmosphere that had characterized many of its sessions. The new format led Justice Clarence Thomas to begin asking questions, something he previously had done only on rare occasion.
The court, which has faced pressure to open up its proceedings to the public, didn’t say whether the live audio feed would continue beyond the December arguments. The court had never allowed live audio until it held its first telephone arguments in May 2020.
The Supreme Court building will remain closed to the public until further notice, the court said. It is open for official business.
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