U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments via Teleconference

Spencer Law Group May 13, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court just wrapped up hearing 13 cases via teleconference in a sign of the times.

The Supreme Court heard 10 oral arguments by telephone in 13 cases that had previously been scheduled for argument in March and April but had been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the justices and the lawyers participated remotely and the court had a live audio feed of these arguments to news media.

The 13 cases for oral argument in May included several that were regarded as time-sensitive – most notably, the pair of cases challenging the constitutionality of state laws that penalize Electoral College delegates who do not vote for the presidential candidate they pledged to support, and the trio of cases involving efforts by Congress and a New York prosecutor’s office to seek the president’s financial records. Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas who had been scheduled to argue a pair of cases in March that were not included on today’s list, noted on Twitter that lawyers in the remaining cases had been informed by the Supreme Court that those cases would be argued in the fall.

Here is the full list of cases scheduled for argument in May, along with a short description of the issues involved in each one:

McGirt v. Oklahoma — Whether land that was set up in the 19th century as a reservation in eastern Oklahoma for the Creek Nation remains a reservation for purposes of a federal law that requires some major crimes committed on a reservation by or against Indians to be prosecuted as federal crimes.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com – Whether the addition of “.com” to an otherwise generic term by an online business can create a protectable trademark.

Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International — Whether the federal government can require foreign affiliates of U.S.-based groups that receive federal funds to have policies expressly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.

Our Lady of Guadalupe v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel — Whether courts can hear employment discrimination claims brought by teachers at Catholic schools.

Little Sisters of the Poor Sts. Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania and Trump v. Pennsylvania — Whether the expansion of the conscience exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s birth-control mandate violated the Affordable Care Act and the laws governing federal administrative agencies.

Chiafalo v. Washington — Whether state “faithless elector” laws, which require presidential electors to vote the way that state law directs, are constitutional.

Colorado Department of State v. Baca — Whether state “faithless elector” laws, which require presidential electors to vote the way that state law directs, are constitutional (Justice Sonia Sotomayor is recused).

Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants — Whether an exception for government-debt collection to a federal law that prohibits calls to cellphones using auto-dial systems or an artificial or prerecorded voice is constitutional.

Trump v. Vance – Whether the Manhattan district attorney can obtain the president’s tax returns as part of a state grand-jury investigation.

Trump v. Mazars and Trump v. Deutsche Bank— Whether congressional committees have the authority to issue subpoenas to the president’s accountant and creditors for financial records belonging to the president and his business entities.