Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court has been listen to oral arguments for the first time ever by teleconference. The audio from the hearings is also streamed live for the first time in the court’s 230-year history. (Still no TV cameras, however).
Just last week, justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent non-surgical treatment for a benign gallbladder disease and attended Wednesday’s oral discussions by telephone from the hospital. She was later download hospital.
What has changed: With the new system, every justice, going in order of seniority, gets a few minutes to interrogate each party. There are no interruptions by other judges or cross dialogues. Chief judge John Roberts generally has imposed terms, interrupting the conversation midway through the flow.
Traditionally, oral arguments offer lawyers the opportunity to ask questions, but they also provide a first opportunity for judges to assert their positions and try to persuade colleagues. Rather than the usual solid questions, the nine ask limited questions without exchanging between them.
The cases were initially scheduled to be heard in late March and early April, but were postponed due to health problems related to coronavirus
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