Attendance will be limited to essential personnel, lawyers for the parties and a select group of reporters, according to a press release. The public will not be allowed to attend the arguments. But the announcement marks yet another milestone as the United States slowly returns to its pre-pandemic normal.
The court heard cases remotely via conference call for part of its term that ran from 2019 to 2020 and all its term that ran from 2020 to 2021. The court during the pandemic provided a live audio feed of the arguments, which for the first time allowed members of the public who were not in the courtroom to hear live Supreme Court arguments.
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by President George H. W. Bush, at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Thomas rarely spoke during Supreme Court oral arguments before the pandemic. But to keep order during the teleconferenced arguments, the court established a more orderly format in which the famously silent justice would regularly quiz counsel just like his peers. The question when the Supreme Court goes back to in-person arguments in October: Will the justices keep their pandemic argument format, and will Thomas clam up if it does? (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
With the change in medium also came a change in the format of the oral arguments. Rather than having the justices in no particular order interrupt counsel throughout the oral argument session, the justices each got a set amount of time to ask the lawyers questions in descending order of seniority.
The new format led Justice Clarence Thomas, who would remain notoriously silent for years on end during oral argument sessions, to begin asking questions to the counsel regularly like all of the other justices.
The court said it will continue to provide a live audio feed of oral arguments as it returns to in-person work. It did not specify if the more orderly format for the oral arguments will continue.
The Supreme Court’s first ever remote oral argument was held May 4, 2020. The case was about whether Booking.com could trademark its web URL. Potentially the last ever remote oral argument was held May 4, 2021. The case was about whether a man convicted for a certain minor crack-cocaine offense was eligible for leniency under the First Step Act.
Fox News’ Shannon Bream and Bill Mears contributed to this report.