Supreme Court postpones April arguments

Supreme Court postpones April arguments
© Greg Nash

The Supreme Court on Friday said it would postpone oral arguments scheduled for its April session amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A court spokeswoman said the move was in line with recommended public health guidance in response to the outbreak, which has infected more than 750 people in Washington, D.C., and thousands more in surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia.

The U.S. has confirmed around 261,000 cases and more than 6,900 deaths.

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“In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the Court will postpone the oral arguments currently scheduled for the April session,” court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said in a statement.

The justices had been scheduled to hear arguments over six days in late April. The Friday announcement comes after the court postponed oral arguments scheduled for its March session, including a landmark dispute over subpoenas for President TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE’s financial records.

The court will consider rescheduling arguments for later in the term, which runs through June, if future public health and safety guidance allows it, or may explore other options, Arberg said.

“The court will consider a range of scheduling options and other alternatives if arguments cannot be held in the courtroom before the end of the term,” she said.

The spokeswoman offered no details about alternatives, but state and federal courts across the country have turned to video and telephone technology as a means to hold hearings amid courtroom closures, and some Supreme Court watchers have urged the justices to do likewise.

The justices continue to hold regularly scheduled conferences, with some justices participating remotely, and will continue to decide cases that have been argued so far this term.

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 Ginsburg, 87; Stephen Breyer, 81; Clarence Thomas, 71; Samuel Alito, 70; and John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor, 65.