U.S. Supreme Court to hold virtual hearings

The United States Supreme Court on Monday announced plans to hear cases by teleconference in May, a move described by watchers as highly unusual.

The change of practice, according to the Spokesperson of the court, Ms Kathy Arberg, is due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Among cases to be heard virtually is one on whether President Donald Trump’s tax and financial records should be public, according to local media.

The court also will hear arguments by teleconference in a case over the complex U.S. presidential election system.

Media reports say this case focuses on whether Electoral College electors are free to break their pledges to support a candidate who wins their state’s popular vote.

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The justices and the lawyers arguing the cases will all participate remotely, Arberg reportedly said.

“In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the justices and counsel will all participate remotely.

“The court anticipates providing a live audio feed of these arguments to news media. Details will be shared as they become available.

“The court building remains open for official business, but most court personnel are teleworking.

“The court building remains closed to the public until further notice,” the spokesperson added.

The announcement represented the latest way in which the pandemic is reshaping American society, reports AM New York.

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It said the court would hear those cases and a handful of others on May 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13, but did not announce the dates for individual cases.

Trump’s appeals in three separate cases to prevent his financial records from being handed over to Democratic-led House of Representatives committees and a New York prosecutor were postponed on March 16 over concern about the COVID-19.

The Coronavirus has proven to be particularly dangerous in elderly people, especially those with underlying medical issues.

Three of the nine justices are over age 70: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (87), Stephen Breyer (81) and Clarence Thomas (71).

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Ginsburg has experienced a series of recent health issues including treatment in the past two years for pancreatic and lung cancer, the newspaper said.