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Supreme Court postpones oral arguments amid coronavirus pandemic

The Supreme Court on Monday postponed oral arguments scheduled for its March session, including a potentially landmark dispute over subpoenas for President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE’s financial records, amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

A court spokeswoman said the move was “in keeping with public health precautions” in response to the outbreak, which has infected 18 people in Washington, D.C., and more than 3,800 nationwide.

“The court will examine the options for rescheduling those cases in due course in light of the developing circumstances,” the spokeswoman said.

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The postponement affects six days of oral arguments slated for late March and April 1, including a March 31 dispute involving efforts by House Democrats and New York state prosecutors to obtain years of Trump’s financial records and tax returns.

The court in a statement said that the postponement of argument sessions in light of public health concerns is not unprecedented.

"The Court postponed scheduled arguments for October 1918 in response to the Spanish flu epidemic," it said. "The Court also shortened its argument calendars in August 1793 and August 1798 in response to yellow fever outbreaks."

The Supreme Court building remains open for official business, including the justices’ regularly scheduled March 20 conference. Some justices may participate in that conference remotely by telephone, a spokeswoman said. The building remains closed to the public indefinitely.

“The court is expanding remote working capabilities to reduce the number of employees in the building, consistent with public health guidance,” the spokeswoman said.

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Six of the nine justices are age 65 or older, placing them in a population that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers to be at risk for serious illness from coronavirus.

The older justices are Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Cardinal Dolan hails Supreme Court decision on churches, COVID-19 Cuomo blames new conservative majority for high court's COVID-19 decision MORE, 87; Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerWill the Supreme Court take ObamaCare off life-support? Barrett to use Supreme Court chambers previously used by Ruth Bader Ginsburg Justice Barrett's baptism by fire: Protecting the integrity of elections MORE, 81; Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Defusing the judicial confirmation process Will the Supreme Court take ObamaCare off life-support? MORE, 71; Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Alito to far-right litigants: The buffet is open No thank you, Dr. Fauci MORE, 69; and John Roberts and Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorWill the Supreme Court take ObamaCare off life-support? Supreme Court grapples over Catholic organization's fight against nondiscrimination law Girl Scouts spark backlash from left after congratulating Justice Amy Coney Barrett MORE, 65.

--This report was updated at 11:04 a.m.