Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth released the following statement:
Given the crowds that often gather in and around the Supreme Court, not to mention the advanced age of several of the justices, it’s the right call to close the building to the public until further notice.
That said, if this state of affairs continues through March 23 – the next time the justices hear arguments – the Court should at a minimum permit the public to listen to a livestream of argument audio from its website.
We believe the Court already has this capacity, as it streamed a Justice Scalia memorial service in Nov. 2016, and any technological gaps could be filled in by the nearby D.C. Circuit, which since Sept. 2018 has offered live online audio for all of its hearings.
Live audio is the smartest way to balance the now-competing concerns of public safety and public access.
Here’s a fact sheet on H.R. 6017, the Twenty-First Century Courts Act, which would require same-day audio at SCOTUS within one year, live SCOTUS audio within two. The bill was introduced Feb. 28, and once we are clear of the virus, we will be working with a broad coalition of groups to push for a markup this spring.