Court Battles

Supreme Court to hear oral arguments by telephone

Greg Nash


The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will hear oral arguments by telephone conference next month, including in a landmark case involving President Trump’s financial records.

The court will hear 10 cases over six days in May, with the justices and lawyers participating over teleconference to abide by social-distancing policies. News media will have access to a live audio feed of the arguments.

“In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the justices and counsel will all participate remotely,” a court spokeswoman said. 

In addition to the dispute over access to Trump’s tax returns and other records, the justices will hear cases involving questions of religious liberty, “faithless electors” — members of the Electoral College who choose not to support the presidential candidate picked by the voters in their state — and ObamaCare’s contraception requirement.

The justices’ use of teleconferences for oral arguments represents a dramatic step for a court that has traditionally been wary of adopting new technologies, and comes after the court postponed arguments in March and April amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cases have not been assigned specific dates yet, but a spokeswoman said arguments would take place May 4-6, and 11-13. 

The landmark separation of powers dispute over Trump’s financial records involves three separate efforts by House Democrats and New York state prosecutors to obtain years of Trump’s financial records and tax returns.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for personal and corporate records. Separately, the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees requested financial records housed at Deutsche Bank and Capital One. Manhattan prosecutors have also subpoenaed Mazars for Trump’s tax returns and other documents from 2011 to 2018.

The arguments were originally scheduled for March 31, with a blockbuster ruling on the extent of presidential immunity in the face of congressional oversight and state prosecutorial power expected before July, just months ahead of Election Day. It’s unclear how the delayed scheduling might affect the timing of the opinion.

Trump has fought efforts to disclose any of his financial records or tax returns and is the first president in decades to not make his returns public.

–Updated at 10:25 a.m.

Tags Coronavirus Donald Trump Oral arguments Supreme Court

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