The Supreme Court announced Wednesday that when the new term begins in October, the justices will hear oral arguments by phone, continuing the format it used for arguments last May due to the pandemic.
“In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the Justices and counsel will all participate remotely,” Kathy Arberg, the court’s public information officer, said in a statement. She noted that the court would also provide live audio feed for the October arguments as it did last term.
When does the new SCOTUS term start: The new term will launch the first Monday of October with the backdrop of possibly the most litigious presidential election in recent years playing out on the public scene. Emergency election related petitions are likely to come to the high court before the election and possibly after the vote.
The court has not yet determined plans for the November and December argument sessions.
Last spring marked the first time the justices heard their cases over the phone and the experiment significantly changed how arguments played out.
Instead of a free for all with the justices interrupting each other and peppering advocates with a barrage of questions, the court proceeded in order of seniority with each justice having time to ask a series of questions.
For the most part, the experiment won good reviews with advocates expressing satisfaction that they were able to get their answers out without interruption. In addition, the new system attracted Justice Clarence Thomas who rarely asks questions in open court, but spoke up frequently by telephone. The session marked the first time, the public could listen in to a live audio feed.