WILL VIRTUAL ORAL ARGUMENTS AT SCOTUS CREATE LASTING CHANGE?
The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments via teleconference in May, on some pretty big cases. The docket includes whether President Trump will be required to release financial records.
The need to conduct hearings via teleconference is a short term solution to the need for social distancing brought about by the Coronavirus. It appears that the media will be permitted to listen to the arguments live. This is of course how it should be, but there is an opportunity here to radically change the way the Supreme Court operates.
The Court has stubbornly refused to allow the public to view oral arguments live, via the internet. There are really no compelling policy arguments for this. The Ohio Supreme Court for example has live streamed oral arguments for years. It works just fine and it allows the public to observe what the state’s highest court is up to. And just last week, when the Ohio Supreme Court heard oral arguments via Zoom, the public was allowed to watch live.
The point is, to quote an old TV show, “we have the technology.” The public could easily observe these arguments. Here’s hoping that this mandated bow to technology will lead the Court to allow the public to view oral arguments online in real time.
That would be a silver lining to the cloud of Covid-19.