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Supreme Court to hold arguments for some key cases by phone

Washington — The Supreme Court will hold arguments by telephone in May for a select number of cases that were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the court's public information office announced Monday.

Among the key cases that will be argued by phone are three involving subpoenas from congressional Democrats and New York prosecutors for President Trump's financial records, as well as a pair of cases involving faithless electors and the Electoral College.

The Supreme Court's public information office said it intends to provide a live audio feed of the arguments to the press, marking the first time the high court will have live audio of arguments. Audio recordings of oral arguments are typically posted on the Friday after they are held, though same-day audio has been provided in limited instances. 

In all, the Supreme Court will conduct phone arguments for 10 cases on select dates in the first two weeks of May. C-SPAN said it is "committing to airing live each" of the arguments. 

All of the justices and attorneys will participate in the arguments remotely "in keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19."

For the remaining cases that will not be heard over the phone, it's unclear whether the Supreme Court will schedule oral arguments in its next term, which begins in October, or whether the justices will rule without hearing arguments at all.

The coronavirus pandemic thrust the remainder of the Supreme Court's term into uncertainty after oral arguments scheduled for March and April were postponed. Governors of nearly all 50 states have issued stay-at-home orders, and the Centers for Disease Control has recommended people refrain from gatherings of more than 10 people, which would make in-person oral arguments difficult in the Supreme Court's stately courtroom.

While the building is closed to the public indefinitely, the justices have continued with their work. They have held their weekly conferences, the most recent of which was April 3, by phone and have released the list of orders online. Additionally, the Supreme Court has issued opinions, though they are not read from the bench but instead posted online in five-minute increments.

The justices are scheduled to hold their next conference, during which they discuss pending cases, Friday.

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