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Friday, May 14, 2021

A U.S. Supreme Court first: arguments to be heard by teleconference

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A U.S. Supreme Court first: arguments to be heard by teleconference
A U.S. Supreme Court first: arguments to be heard by teleconference

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday it will hear arguments by teleconference next month in a high-profile dispute over whether President Donald Trump’s tax and financial records should be disclosed and other cases due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This report produced by Chris Dignam.

As American workplaces and all manner of U.S. institutions are forced to adapt amid the coronavirus pandemic so, too, must the U.S. Supreme Court.

The highest court in the land announced on Monday that for the first time the nine justices will hear cases argued by teleconference rather than in the courtroom, including a closely watched dispute over whether President Donald Trump's tax and financial records should be disclosed.

A court spokeswoman said arguments in 10 cases will be heard by teleconferencing next month and all nine justices will participate remotely.

The change is highly unusual as the court has been historically resistant to embrace new technologies.

In a statement, the spokeswoman said, "the court anticipates providing a live audio feed of these arguments to news media." Audio feeds in the past have not been broadcast live.

There still is no video recording so the public will not be seeing a Brady Bunch-style grid of the nine justices.

The coronavirus has proven to be far more dangerous in elderly people, especially those with underlying medical issues.

Three of the nine justices are over the age of 70, including Clarence Thomas at 71, Stephen Breyer at 81 and the oldest, 87-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has experienced a series of recent health issues including treatment for pancreatic and lung cancer.

The highest-profile case to be heard by teleconference is over Trump's tax and financial records.

After losing three separate cases in lower courts - two involving Democratic-led House committees and one brought by a New York prosecutor - Trump's appeals in the three cases were due to have been heard on March 31 but were postponed on March 16 over concern about the coronavirus.

Also on the teleworking docket is a case over the complex U.S. presidential election system focusing on whether Electoral College electors are free to break their pledges to back the candidate who wins their state's popular vote.

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