Supreme Court To Stick With Arguments Via Telephone, For Now

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FILE - In this June 29, 2020, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump is preparing to release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees. It's a list that will give voters something to compare to rival Joe Biden’s promise to nominate a Black woman to the high court if given the chance. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

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The Supreme Court said Wednesday it will start its new term next month the way it ended the last one, with arguments by telephone because of the coronavirus pandemic and live audio available to the public.

With 87-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg being treated for cancer and five of her colleagues also age 65 or older, the court is taking no chances that putting the justices in close proximity to each other might make them more vulnerable to catching the virus.

“In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the Justices and counsel will all participate remotely,” the court said in a statement. The court will decide at a later date how to hold arguments in November and December.

The court held arguments by telephone in May for the first time, and made the audio available live, also a first for the tradition-bound court.

All the justices asked questions during 10 arguments, even the normally taciturn Clarence Thomas. Ginsburg took part from a hospital room one day when she was being treated for possible infection.

She withheld her latest cancer diagnosis until after the term ended in mid-July, when she said she was undergoing chemotherapy for lesions on her liver, but planned to continue serving on the court.

(AP)