US coronavirus update: Cases approach 1 million

The US Supreme Court is seen amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 15, in Washington, DC.
The US Supreme Court is seen amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 15, in Washington, DC. Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images

When the Supreme Court hears arguments next month by phone for the first time in the court’s history, the justices will change their normal protocol and try to avoid their familiar interruptions.

The justices will ask their questions in order of seniority, with Chief Justice John Roberts going first, the court announced today.

Under normal circumstances, the court is considered a “hot bench,” with justices frequently interrupting each other and the lawyers before them. Roberts has had to step in as a kind of traffic cop at certain times.

Under the new system that will be in place for arguments beginning on Monday, a justice will get the chance to exhaust his or her line of questioning before the next justice begins.

If there is time, according to a release from Kathy Arberg, the Court’s public information officer, any remaining questions can be asked after the first round is over.

Arberg said the changes were made in “keeping with public health guidance in response to Covid-19.”

In all, the court will hear 10 cases over the next two weeks. The most noteworthy cases fall on May 12 concerning President Trump’s bid to shield his financial records from release.

The sessions will mark the first time in history that members of the public will be able to listen in to arguments real time.

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