Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court has been hear oral arguments for the first time ever via teleconferencing. The sound of the hearings is also broadcast live for the first time in the court's 230-year history. (Still, however, there are no TV cameras).
Just last week, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent nonsurgical treatment for a benign gallbladder condition and participated in Wednesday's oral arguments by phone from the hospital. She was later discharged from the hospital.
What has changed: Under the new system, each justice, in order of seniority, gets a few minutes to ask questions on each side. There is no interruption of other justices or cross-talk. Chief Executive John Roberts generally has forced deadlines, cuts off the conversation in the middle of the stream.
Traditionally, oral arguments give attorneys a chance to ask questions, but they also provide an early opportunity for judges to assert their own positions and try to persuade colleagues. Rather than the usual robust questioning, they pose nine limited questions without exchanging them.
The cases were originally due to be heard in late March and early April, but were postponed due to health problems related to coronavirus