The Coronavirus threat on Monday began to slow the wheels of justice at the federal level, as the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would delay arguments scheduled in a series of cases between March 23 and April 1.
It was the first time the High Court had delayed court proceedings because of a health matter since the flu pandemic in October of 1918.
"In keeping with public health precautions recommended in response to COVID-19, the Supreme Court is postponing the oral arguments currently scheduled for the March session," the Justices announced in a written statement.
"The Court will examine the options for rescheduling those cases in due course in light of the developing circumstances," the statement noted.
Now: SCOTUS postpones upcoming oral arguments in March; cases include dispute over Trump's financial records. Advisory just issued: pic.twitter.com/68lVmdm3FJ— Mike Scarcella (@MikeScarcella) March 16, 2020
The main question is whether some or all of the hearings will be postponed. Most can wait; Trump v. Mazars & Trump v. Vance (the tax subpoena battles w the House & NY prosecutors) probably can’t. 2/— Steven Mazie (@stevenmazie) March 16, 2020
Six days of public arguments were on the schedule from March 23 to April 1.
Included in that batch of cases were a major legal challenge involving President Donald Trump, and his effort to keep Congressional investigators and prosecutors in New York from using subpoenas to his accounting firms, in order to get access to his family business records.
In a statement, the Supreme Court noted this is not the first time that general health issues have forced the Justices to delay their work.
At the height of the Spanish flu pandemic in the fall of 1918, the Court postponed action on cases as well.
WaPo, 11/2/1918, reporting that #SCOTUS will begin hearing arguments after month-long recess because of the flu pandemic. pic.twitter.com/KMfsepUxvB— Mark Sherman (@shermancourt) March 11, 2020
The Supreme Court statement also noted that court action was delayed twice in the late 1700's because of yellow fever outbreaks.
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