The old is new again: Justices return to court for a new term


After a 19-month absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court has resumed a historic term.

A court with a rightward bias, which includes three former president Donald Trump justices, will be discussing abortion, guns, and religion.

For the first arguments of this term, eight of the nine justices sat on Monday at 10 AM EDT. Justice Brett Kavanaugh will be participating remotely after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. The court stated that Kavanaugh, who had been vaccinated in January showed no symptoms. All other justices have also been vaccinated.

The court is still closed to the public, in an apparent nod to the virus’ persistence. The hallways of the court, which are normally bustling during court sessions, were unusually quiet. The portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died just over one year ago hangs in the main corridor. It is directly across from Justice Antonin Scalia, her colleague and friend who died in 2016. Visitors enter the building’s north side from Ginsburg’s portrait, while Scalia’s is to the right. In death as well as life. Only the lawyers and reporters covering the court cases are allowed to be present. Anyone not arguing must wear a mask. Lawyers and reporters who wish to attend court are required to take negative COVID-19 test.

The court stated that lawyers who have been confirmed positive for the pandemic will be allowed to present their arguments by telephone. This is how lawyers used to argue before the court due to the pandemic.

You can now listen to the proceedings live, which was another change during the pandemic. Monday’s live audio of the courtroom proceedings will be available via a link on this court’s website.

It is less likely that any extraneous sounds, such as the sound of a flushing toilet, will be heard when you return to courtroom.

The Monday cases are not one of the most anticipated disputes that the court will referee during this term. A dispute between Mississippi and Tennessee is over water in an underground well that lies beneath both states. The dispute dates back to 2005, when Mississippi claimed that Memphis was pumping water from the Mississippi aquifer. Tennessee claims water doesn’t work this way and that the aquifer should be shared equally.

Another sentence is a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison for any man convicted of possessing a firearm. Federal law prohibits felons owning firearms.

This case is under the Armed Career Criminal Act. The issue is whether the theft from 10 units at a mini storage facility on the same day should be considered one conviction or 10. Lower courts ruled that the man was eligible for a longer sentence in prison.

Kavanaugh was the only exception. The justices were present in the courtroom on Friday to witness the ceremonial swearingin of Trump’s third appointee Justice Amy Coney Barrett. All justices undergo regular testing, and Kavanaugh was the only one to be negative before Friday’s ceremony.

Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a woman with diabetes since childhood, wore the mask during the short ceremony.