By Mark Sherman and Jessica Gresco.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court has begun a significant new term in the courtroom after nearly 19 months of absenteeism due to the corona virus epidemic.
Abortion, guns, and religion are all on the agenda of a court with a right-leaning agenda, including three judges appointed by former President Donald Trump.
Eight of the nine judges took the EDT at 10 a.m. Monday for the first arguments of the new term. Justice Brett Kavanagh is taking part away from his home after testing positive for COVID-19 last weekend. The court said Kavano, who was vaccinated in January, was showing no symptoms. All other judges have also been vaccinated.
To keep the virus at bay, the court is closed to the public. The courtrooms, which are usually bustling in the morning when the court is in session, were very quiet. A photo of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who died just a year ago, hangs in a main corridor, directly from her friend and colleague who died in 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia. As visitors enter the building from its north side, the image of Jensberg is on the left, on the right of Scalia – in life-like death.
Only lawyers and reporters involved in cases who regularly cover the court, and who do not argue, have to wear masks. The court is also asking for a negative COVID-19 test from lawyers and reporters who want to stay in the courtroom.
The court said lawyers who test positive will be able to present their arguments over the telephone. Lawyers were arguing in court over the epidemic.
The public can hear the proceedings live, another change made during the epidemic, but for the first time on Monday, live audio of the courtroom proceedings is available, via a link to the court’s website.
Coming back to the courtroom makes it less likely that outside noise, like a flushing toilet that could be heard during an argument last year, will penetrate.
Monday’s case is not one of the most anticipated disputes that the court will refer to this period. One issue is a water fight between Mississippi and Tennessee in an underground aquifer that sits below parts of both states. The controversy dates back to 2005 when Mississippi first claimed that Memphis was pumping water from the Mississippi portion of the water. Tennessee says water doesn’t work that way, saying water is an international resource that should be shared fairly.
The second includes a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for a person with a criminal record who was convicted of possessing a gun. Federal law prohibits criminals from carrying firearms.
The case has arisen under the Armed Carriers Criminal Act and the question is whether theft of items from 10 units on the same day in money storage facilities should be counted as one punishment or 10, which the lower courts have sentenced the man to long imprisonment. Eligible for Phrase.
With the exception of Kavanagh, Justices were in the courtroom on Friday for the formal swearing-in of Justice Amy Connie Barrett, Trump’s third appointment. All judges are routinely tested before Friday’s ceremony, and all but Cavano are tested negatively.
Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has had diabetes since childhood, wore a mask during the brief ceremony.