A note about how COVID-19 (coronavirus) has impacted the Supreme Court. (Full details about all of this can be found at SCOTUSblog).
On one hand, the Court is continuing to operate. Although the Court is closed to the public, it is technically open for business. The Court handed down four opinions on Monday (3/23) and the previous Friday they held their conference to discuss petitions for certiorari and other matters. They will presumably keep doing this; most of the work of the Court goes on behind the scenes.
But even that was not normal. The Friday conference was held by phone, with only Chief Justice Roberts being at the Court. All other Justices–and all nine are healthy–participated by phone. The Court has always issued opinions from the bench, with the author of the majority reading at least a summary, and the dissenter(s) perhaps reading their opinions as well. None of that happened Monday: that Court simply issued the four opinions on the Court’s website at the usual time, 10:00 AM, at 5-minute intervals. That hasn’t happened since Bush v. Gore in 2000, and even then the justices were on the bench; they simply did not read their opinions.
The most significant thing (so far) is that the Court has indefinitely postponed the March oral argument sitting (11 cases in all). There is no word yet about the April sitting (9 cases). Given the CDC guidelines, it seems unlikely that sitting will happen as scheduled.
There is no statute or Supreme Court rule dealing with any of this. There is no requirement that cases be decided with an oral argument; cases can–and are–decided just on the briefs filed. It can hold oral arguments without a pubic gallery, or defer them indefinitely. Video streaming, while an option, is not likely; the justices, for a variety of reasons, do not want video in the Court. And the option that some federal appellate and district courts have adopted–remote oral arguments by audio or video conferencing–makes sense when you have one or three judges, but not when you have nine, eight of whom ask a lot of questions (Justice Thomas does not).
The Court likes tradition, and that includes oral argument. Many of the cases set for March and April are high-profile (the Trump subpoena cases and the faithless elector cases come to mind). But the Court is also sensible, and they have Justices, clerks, staff, and the advocates to protect. We will just have to wait and see how the Court handles the rest of this term. I would expect almost all of the 20 cases to be orally argued; I just have no idea when.