One of the hallmarks of the American justice system is the ability to appear in court to make your case. Covid-19 has radically changed how we do that with. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments remotely and online for the first time.
As a lawyer, with more than 18 years in the courtroom as a state prosecutor, as a federal prosecutor, and as a defense attorney, it is surreal to think that members of the highest court in the land are communicating with litigants and each other via phone and over a streaming service instead of in person.
Quartz.com explained the visual best:
“This week, for the first time ever, justices are holding oral arguments over the phone and—in another historic first—these calls are being livestreamed. Listeners aren’t exactly getting a feel for the traditional real deal but are experiencing something unique, a jurisprudential revolution.”
Under the new provisions, each side will have two minutes of uninterrupted argument at the beginning. After that, each justice gets up to two minutes for questioning, with more questions permitted if there is time left at the end of the first round. Each side has a total of 30 minutes.
The justices will speak in order of seniority: After Chief Justice John Roberts, it will be Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
While the US Supreme Court website doesn’t have it live, you can get some great background information there on each case.