- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Supreme Court announced Wednesday the justices will kick off the 2020 term in October remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The high court will hear oral arguments in October through teleconference, just as the justices did in May of this year following the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders that upended the court’s planned schedule.

The court convenes Oct. 5 and will hear 10 oral arguments that month through Oct. 14. The session includes a much-watched legal dispute between Google and Oracle.

“The Court will continue to closely monitor public health guidance in determining plans for the November and December argument sessions,” a spokesperson for the high court told reporters.

The Supreme Court is open only for official business. It closed to the public during the stay-at-home orders initially issued in mid-March due to the pandemic.

When the high court moved to telephonic hearings in May, it broke a long-held tradition of not holding the arguments inside the courtroom, giving the public a chance to hear arguments in real-time as media outlets streamed the hearings.

Traditionally, the high court does not hear arguments in May, but it was forced to do so since it had to cancel about 20 hearings, moving 10 of the cases to May and then the other 10 were pushed into the next term, which officially begins in October and runs through the summer next year.

Postponing the oral arguments was a rare move in the history of the court.

The court postponed arguments in 1918 during the Spanish flu epidemic. A court spokesperson also noted calendars at the court were changed in 1793 and 1798 over yellow fever.

The justices also heard arguments outside of the Supreme Court building in October 2001, when there was an anthrax scare. The hearings took place at the federal courthouse about half a mile from the Supreme Court building.

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