Supreme Court Postpones April Arguments

The Supreme Court has postponed its April argument session due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Having previously postponed the arguments scheduled for late March, the Court now has 20 cases that will have to be reset for argument. While not unprecedented, the Court has adjusted its schedule due to a public health crisis only three times in history: In 1918, oral arguments were postponed because of the Spanish Flu, and in 1793 and 1798, the Court shortened its calendar due to yellow fever outbreaks.

The arguments put on hold include a trio of cases involving President Donald Trump’s financial and tax records that the Manhattan district attorney and a U.S. House of Representatives panel have requested; a pair of consolidated cases concerning the legality of religious and moral exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for employer health plans to cover birth control; another pair of consolidated cases involving specific personal jurisdiction in defect and negligence suits; and a Fourth Amendment case involving a police shooting.

The Court will consider rescheduling the March and April arguments before the end of the term—if circumstances permit. Otherwise, the Court will think about other scheduling options and alternatives to holding arguments in the courtroom. The postponements raise questions as to whether the Justices will be able to complete their work by the July recess.

But COVID-19 has not brought the Court’s operations to a complete halt. The Justices have been holding their regular conferences, working towards resolving cases that have already been argued, and deciding petitions and other motions. In an effort to help the Court continue its operations during the crisis, Congress recently budgeted $500,000 for the Court in its $2 trillion stimulus package. The funds will help provide the necessary upgrades and support for the Court’s telecommunications infrastructure to maintain telework for a longer period of time.

Posted by Kamryn Deegan.

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