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Can Everyone Hear Me? The Supreme Court Goes Remote

From May 4-May 13, the public will be able to hear audio of Supreme Court arguments live for the first time ever.
From May 4-May 13, the public will be able to hear audio of Supreme Court arguments live for the first time ever.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments via an audio livestream for the first time in history. And it’s the first time the public will get to hear them live, too.

The Washington Post’s Robert Barnes described the move as “taking a historic but modest step into the technological present.”

Over the next two weeks, the judges will hear arguments about birth control access, robocalls and subpoenas for some of President Donald Trump’s pre-presidential financial records.

Several lawyers told NPR’s Nina Totenberg they thought making remote arguments could be a challenge.

“You lose the ability to read body language. That’s No. 1,” says Jay Sekulow, who will be representing President Trump in cases testing whether the president can be subpoenaed for his pre-presidential financial records either by Congress or by a state grand jury subpoena in a criminal case.

As Sekulow observes, oral argument is typically a “pretty intimate event when you’re actually arguing in the courtroom. You see them. You can see their reactions. You see if they nod to each other. Here you’re doing this literally over a telephone line. So you lose the intimacy.”

We bring you the latest on what’s ahead for the court.

Find an audio livestream provided by NPR here. 

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