Law & the Courts

Supreme Court Announces Closure over Coronavirus Fears, First Since 1918 Spanish Flu Outbreak

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., 2018 (Erin Schaff/Reuters)

The Supreme Court said Monday that it will postpone oral arguments for its March session in response to coronavirus, the High Court’s first closure in over 100 years since the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak.

“The Court will examine the options for rescheduling those cases in due course in light of the developing circumstances,” it said in a statement. The Court added that is regularly-scheduled private conference this coming Friday and its order list next Monday will occur, but added that “some Justices may participate by telephone.” Six of the Justices are 65-years-old or older, while both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are in their 80s.

Among the high-profile cases on the schedule that have been indefinitely postponed include a March 31 argument on President Donald Trump’s efforts to prevent the release of his tax returns and other financial documents, despite inquires from the House of Representatives and a New York prosecutor.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has taken up these three cases of significant constitutional issues,” Trump attorney Jay Sekulow told ABC when the Court announced its decision to hear the case in December. “We look forward to presenting written and oral arguments.”

Last week, the Court closed to the public until further notice.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced over the weekend restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, directing nightclubs to shut down and bars and restaurants to comply with stricter occupancy rules. On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a protocol saying that gatherings of 50 people or more should be canceled or postponed nationwide for the next eight weeks.

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