Supreme Court Staying Remote For Upcoming Arguments

By Jimmy Hoover
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Law360 (February 12, 2021, 7:28 PM EST) -- The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that it would continue holding remote arguments for its upcoming two-week session that begins on Feb. 22, which a spokeswoman said was "in keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19."

The U.S. Supreme Court is visible behind razor wire fencing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. The justices will continue to hear cases remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The high court has been closed to the public since last March and has been holding remote arguments via telephone since May. The upcoming arguments will follow the same format used for its previous teleconference sessions, which marked the first time in the institution's 230-year history that it allowed live audio broadcasts of its oral arguments.

The justices will hear only six arguments from the start of the session on Feb. 22 to its end on March 3. The slate covers an eclectic mix of topics, including a water dispute between Florida and Georgia and a battle concerning who bears the burden of proof in asylum cases.

On March 1, the justices will wade into a major debate dominating the intellectual property world — namely, the constitutionality of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Set up by the America Invents Act to review the validity of existing patents that are asserted in infringement litigation, the PTAB has been a thorn in the side of patent owners, who have labelled the board a kind of "death squad" for intellectual property rights.

As of mid-January, some of the justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., had already received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The court has not released any further updates on the vaccination status of the justices.

--Editing by Daniel King.

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