The Supreme Court has confirmed that the public will be able to attend hearings in October for the first time since the Covid lockdown in March 2020.

U.S. Supreme Court crosswalk signal, Washington, D.C., June 27, 2022.

Photo by Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

A statement sent by the Supreme Court’s press office on Wednesday announced that starting on Monday, the public will once again be welcome to attend oral argument proceedings for the first time since the Covid-19 shutdown in March 2020.

The high court’s justices are scheduled to hear arguments in three cases at the start of the court’s October term, when public access will resume.

When it reopens, it will be exactly a year since the court once again heard oral arguments in person, after having done so virtually for longer than that.

For the past year, only the nine justices, other necessary court staff, attorneys for the parties, and journalists with full-time press credentials from the court have been allowed inside the courtroom during such proceedings.

In a speech to the 10th Circuit Bench and Bar Conference in Colorado earlier this month, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that public access would soon be restored.

Masking in the Courtroom for oral arguments will be voluntary, the court’s press office announced on Wednesday.

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The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. “will otherwise remain closed to the public until further notice,” the office said, except for oral arguments.

Even though the court has restricted the public’s ability to attend the hearings because of Covid, it will continue to provide a live audio broadcast of the proceedings.

On March 16, 2020, the Supreme Court announced that it would be postponing oral arguments scheduled for the following two weeks that month due to “public health precautions suggested in response to Covid-19.”

For the same reason, the court will not hear oral arguments until April of 2020. The court held a telephone conference hearing for many previously planned oral arguments in May of 2020.

The court’s October 2020 session started with a telephone conference for the first oral arguments.

The October 2021 term marked the return of closed-door, in-person oral arguments.

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