High court to continue hearings by phone through December

Mourners pay respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, in Washington. Ginsburg, 87, died of cancer on Sept. 18. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Friday it will continue to hear arguments by telephone through at least December because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The court’s announcement extending telephone arguments two months means that a big challenge to the Obama-era healthcare law being heard in November will be heard by phone.

“The Court will continue to closely monitor public health guidance in determining plans for the January argument session,” the court said in a statement.

The high court returned from its summer break this week and heard six arguments by phone. It plans to hear another four arguments by phone next week. The court has a total of 18 arguments scheduled for November and December.

The justices last met in person to hear arguments in February, but they closed the courthouse to the public in March because of the public health crisis and postponed arguments in March and April.

The court first held arguments by telephone in May and made the audio available live, also a first for the tradition-bound court.

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