Today's top new stories about fair courts & judicial independence.
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March 20, 2020

Social Media Highlight

RT Alicia Bannon - How are courts responding to coronavirus? The @BrennanCenter has put together a resource page cataloging responses from federal, state, and immigration courts.

Top News

Coronavirus may force tech-averse Supreme Court into modern era (CNN) “The coronavirus pandemic is forcing all courts to alter their procedures, but the US Supreme Court, imbued with an archaic, insular air and a majority of justices over age 65, will face a distinct challenge to keep operating and provide public access to proceedings.

The justices for years have refused to televise hearings, livestream the audio from sessions or even provide recordings of oral arguments the same day they are held. The Supreme Court of Canada, meanwhile, has been webcasting its proceedings for more than a decade, some lower US courts livestream audio of arguments, and many US state courts allow live TV coverage.”

Coronavirus: Will courts continue to operate, preserving the rule of law? (The Conversation) “The coronavirus outbreak is affecting broad swaths of American life, including all levels of government. On March 16 the U.S. Supreme Court took the unusual step of indefinitely postponing oral arguments scheduled for at least the next two weeks.

The court held oral arguments in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy had closed the rest of official Washington. It often continues to do business when other government agencies shut down due to snowstorms. In this latest move, the court’s statement said the justices were taking this action “in keeping with public health precautions recommended in response to COVID-19 … The Court will examine the options for rescheduling those cases in due course in light of the developing circumstances.””

U.S. called on to close immigration courts, release some detainees (NBC News) “A wide coalition of immigrant advocacy and union groups are demanding the Trump administration close all immigration courts and release vulnerable migrants from detention as enforcement operations have persisted despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Immigration judges, attorneys and Immigration and Customs Enforcement lawyers called on the Department of Justice to close the courts as they pointed out the dangers of holding people in public spaces.”

Courts’ Responses to the Covid-19 Crisis (Brennan Center for Justice) “The Brennan Center is compiling the formal policy responses of federal courts, immigration courts, and state courts to the Covid-19 public health crisis.

Thus far, courts’ responses vary substantially across jurisdictions, with policies ranging from carrying on business as usual to closing courthouses entirely and suspending in-person proceedings indefinitely. Even within the same jurisdiction, different courthouses and judges often have wide discretion to determine which hearings must take place in person and which court personnel must come to work.”

State court closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 (Ballotpedia) “In late 2019, the Chinese government confirmed that health authorities were treating dozens of cases of a then-unknown virus with pneumonia-like symptoms. The first virus-related death was confirmed on January 11, 2020, in China, and the first confirmed case in the United States was announced on January 21. The World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on January 30. The first death in the United States was confirmed on February 28.”
Tennessee Lawmakers Appeal Refugee Lawsuit to Supreme Court
Associated Press - March 19 

If the Supreme Court repeals the Affordable Care Act, California will feel substantial impact
CalMatters - March 19
Watchdog Group Demands Probe of D.C. Circuit Judge’s Retirement
Bloomberg Law - March 19 

Central Illinois’ federal courts to close temporarily
WCIA3 - March 19 


DeSantis says he's pushing back timeline of picking new justices for Florida Supreme Court
CBS12 News - March 19 

Florida Supreme Court Clears Open Primary Constitutional Amendment For November Ballot
WFSU Media - March 19 


Trans judicial candidate Jill Rose Quinn wins primary, could make history in Illinois
Metro Weekly - March 19 


Iowa Courts Remain Open For Emergency Matters; Concerns Raised About Evictions And Access
Iowa Public Radio - March 19 

New Hampshire

State ban on gatherings challenged in court
Concord Monitor - March 19 


Ohio Supreme Court chief justice calls for 'uniform buy-in’ among judges in response to coronavirus pandemic - March 19 

Ohio Democratic Party sues Ohio Secretary of State over primary election postponement
Ballotpedia - March 19 
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