The Supreme Court on Monday said it is postponing its next round of oral arguments, which was scheduled to begin Monday, because of concerns over the coronavirus. It is the first time the court has scheduled a pause in its work since 1918, when the Spanish flu epidemic hit Washington.
The court was scheduled to hold arguments on six days over two weeks, with the session culminating April 1 with a highly anticipated case: President Donald Trump’s challenge of efforts by congressional committees and a New York prosecutor to subpoena his financial records.
Also on the court’s agenda is a long-running $8 billion copyright legal battle Google and Oracle, and a test of which employees of religious schools are covered by anti-discrimination laws.
“The court will examine the options for rescheduling those cases in due course in light of the developing circumstances,” said a statement from spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg.
The court closed for public tours and lectures last week, although it remains open for official business
The justices will meet for their regularly schedule private conference on Friday. Arberg said some justices may participate via telephone.
The court generally is loath to stray from its schedule. When the rest of Washington shutters for snowstorms, the court carries on. It held oral arguments in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy had closed the rest of official Washington, although it later pushed back arguments for a day.
But the court’s news release noted that “postponement of argument sessions in light of public health concerns is not unprecedented.” Besides the 1918 recess, the court “also shortened its argument calendars in August 1793 and August 1798 in response to yellow fever outbreaks.