The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will hear 10 hours of oral argument via teleconference in previously postponed cases between May 4 and May 13, with specific dates to be announced. At this blog, in a post that was first published at Howe on the Court, Amy Howe reports that “the court will provide live-audio access to the media – and that media access will be pooled – for both reporting and live-streaming purposes,” meaning that “live audio of the arguments will be available to the public, an unprecedented move.” Greg Stohr reports at Bloomberg that “[i]t’s an extraordinary step for the tradition-bound court, whose arguments are normally steeped in ritual and devoid of all but the most basic technology.” For The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Jess Bravin and Brent Kendall report that although “[t]he move stops short of steps taken by many lower courts, including the state supreme courts of California, Kansas and Texas, to conduct arguments by publicly accessible videoconference,” it “is a sign of just how much the coronavirus has changed public life”: “The high court is famously resistant to change, and has summarily rejected requests from lawmakers, the news media and academics for live transmission of its arguments.” At NPR, Nina Totenberg notes that “[w]ith the justices unable to see each other and the lawyers also unable to see the justices, oral argument may be more stilted than usual, with fewer follow-up questions and answers.”

At Politico, Josh Gerstein reports that “[a]mong the cases chosen for the novel “telephone conference” arguments are fights over subpoenas for President Donald Trump’s financial records, the Trump administration’s policy granting religious exemptions to Obamacare and states’ authority to punish presidential electors who vote contrary to state law.” Kevin Daley reports for The Washington Free Beacon that “[t]he Court did not formally announce how it will dispose of the remaining March and April cases, but a lawyer in one dispute said he has been told his argument will be deferred to the Court’s next term, which begins in October.” Additional coverage comes from Mark Walsh at Education Week’s School Law Blog.

Amy Howe reports for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court, that the challengers of the “public charge” rule, which bars noncitizens who receive a variety of public benefits from obtaining a green card, asked the justices to temporarily block implementation of the rule during the coronavirus pandemic “because it deters immigrants – who fear that it will jeopardize their ability to obtain a green card – from accessing health care, including testing and treatment for the virus.” For The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin reports that “[l]ast August, the Department of Homeland Security tightened” the public charge rule, but “[i]n January, the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote along conservative-liberal lines, allowed the … rule to take effect while the case moved forward”; “New York Attorney General Letitia James said Monday the high court should reconsider that decision in light of the pandemic.”

At the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (subscription required), Daniel Cotter discusses the court’s recent decision in Republican National Committee v. Democratic National Committee, which blocked a lower court order extending the deadline for mailing absentee ballots in Wisconsin’s election because of the coronavirus pandemic. At The George Washington Law Review’s On the Docket blog, Stephen Pershing calls the ruling “paradoxical[:] It violated the Court’s professed non-intervention value in order to enforce it[, a]nd it required thousands of voters to risk their and their fellow citizens’ health in order to avoid complete disenfranchisement.”

Briefly:

  • At Education Week’s School Law Blog, Mark Walsh reports that “[s]tudents at a New York City private school had a special guest early this month as coronavirus concerns forced them to converge on Zoom: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer.”
  • Ariane de Vogue reports at CNN on another Breyer appearance: The justice “has released a rare public service announcement urging individuals to fill out their census questionnaires, emphasizing how vital the information will be as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.”
  • At On the Docket, Stephen Saltzburg highlights some of the questions remaining after the court’s decision in Kansas v. Glover, which held that in an investigative stop under the Fourth Amendment, it is reasonable for police office to suspect that the registered owner of a car is the driver, absent evidence to the contrary. [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the respondent in this case.]
  • In the latest episode of Bloomberg Law’s Cases and Controversies podcast, Kimberly Robinson and Jordan Rubin “break down the heated dispute [over the Wisconsin election] and all of the latest Supreme Court news, coronavirus-related and otherwise.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 14, 2020, 6:55 AM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2020/04/tuesday-round-up-526/