Supreme Court To Hold Arguments By Teleconference

By Jimmy Hoover
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Law360 (April 13, 2020, 10:46 AM EDT) -- The U.S. Supreme Court will hold oral arguments by teleconference next month due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, with all nine justices and counsel participating remotely in what will be a bold new experiment for an institution not known for its technical prowess.

A police officer patrols outside the U.S. Supreme Court last month. The court has been closed to oral arguments due to the coronavirus pandemic and announced Monday that it will move to holding oral arguments by teleconference. (AP)

The Supreme Court postponed its original March and April oral argument sessions in recent weeks due to the danger that the coronavirus pandemic posed to large gatherings in tight quarters. On Monday, the court announced that it has rescheduled around half of the cases from both of those sessions for argument by teleconference from May 4 to May 12.

The remainder of the postponed cases from the sessions "will be carried over and the arguments will be conducted early in the 2020 term," the Supreme Court told counsel in an email Monday.

"In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the justices and counsel will all participate remotely," Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said in a statement. "The court anticipates providing a live audio feed of these arguments to news media. Details will be shared as they become available."

The court said it would allow networks to stream the arguments on their platforms, and C-SPAN said Monday it is "committing to airing live each of the Supreme Court's just-announced schedule of oral arguments for May."

Among the newly rescheduled cases is a high-profile battle over access to President Donald Trump's financial records, in which the president is fighting subpoenas from House Democrats and the Manhattan district attorney's office. The cases are Trump v. Vance, Trump v. Mazars USA LLP and Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG.

The court will also teleconference arguments in a pair of consolidated cases examining the lawfulness of religious and moral exemptions from the Affordable Care Act's requirement for employer health plans to cover birth control. The cases are Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania and Trump v. Pennsylvania.

Another notable, if less well-known, case that has now been rescheduled for teleconference is McGirt v. Oklahoma, involving the historic boundary of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation's reservation in Oklahoma and who should exercise jurisdiction there.

All of the cases that have been rescheduled are McGirt v. Oklahoma; United States Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com BV; Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International Inc.; Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru; St. James School v. Biel; Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania; Trump v. Pennsylvania; Chiafalo v. Washington; Colorado Department of State v. Baca; Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants Inc.; Trump v. Vance; Trump v. Mazars USA LLP; and Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG.

The court did not assign specific dates to the cases, saying it will do so after confirming the availability of counsel.

The cases that will now be carried over until the fall include Google v. Oracle America, a copyright battle between the tech giants over the use of copyrighted code in Android smartphones, as well as Carney v. Adams, Delaware's attempt to preserve the state's 122-year-old requirements for major party balance among members of its three top courts.

--Additional reporting by Jeff Overley, Andrew Westney and Christopher Cole. Editing by Katherine Rautenberg.

Update: This story has been updated with additional information about the cases that have been rescheduled, and streaming of the arguments on networks.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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