SCOTUS in the Time of COVID: The Evolution of Justice Dynamics during Oral Arguments
29 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2022
Date Written: September 27, 2022
We assess changes to oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the degree to which those changes persisted once the justices became used to the new procedures. To do so, we examine whether key attributes of these proceedings changed as the Court experimented with telephonic hearings and subsequently returned to in-person oral arguments. We demonstrate that the initial telephonic forum changed the dynamics of oral argument in a way that gave the chief justice new power and reconfigured justices’ engagement during these proceedings. However, we also show that the associate justices adapted to this new institutional landscape by changing their behavior. The findings shed light on the consequences of significant, novel, disruptions to institutional rules and norms in the government and legal system.
Keywords: Supreme Court, Oral Argument, Covid, Chief Justice, Judicial Behavior
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation