Politics

Supreme Court closes to the public until further notice amid coronavirus outbreak

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Key Points
  • The Supreme Court will be closed to the public until further notice amid the coronavirus pandemic, a spokesperson said Thursday.
  • The building will remain open for "official business," the spokesperson said. The next oral arguments are scheduled to take place on March 23. 
A man walks up the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Supreme Court will be closed to the public until further notice amid the coronavirus pandemic, a spokesperson said Thursday. The building will remain open for "official business," the spokesperson said.

Members of the public flock to the court during the week to watch oral arguments in cases that reach the top court and to take tours of its historic building. High-profile cases often draw lines around the block, with potential spectators lining up days in advance. 

The next oral arguments are scheduled to take place on March 23. At the end of the month, the court will hear a blockbuster set of cases over whether President Donald Trump may keep his financial records, including tax documents, shielded from state and congressional investigators. 

It's not clear if the court, which has long resisted calls to broadcast its arguments live on television or online, will provide a mechanism for the public to view arguments in real time. It publishes recordings and transcripts of arguments as a matter of routine. 

Public events and gatherings have been canceled across the country due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as the number of infections in the nation's capital climbed. 

Some of the court's nine justices are particularly susceptible to the infection, which public health officials have said disproportionately impacts older people and those with chronic health conditions. Six of the justices are 65-years-old or older. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the eldest on the panel, is 86 and has suffered from multiple bouts of cancer. 

Coronavirus has infected more than 127,000 people globally and has killed at least 38 in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.