Supreme Court to reopen for upcoming term, masking optional

The U.S. Supreme Court announced new policies on Wednesday for its upcoming term, allowing the public to attend oral arguments in person and making mask-wearing optional.

The Court will still provide a live audio feed and will publish transcripts and audio for oral arguments, which it began doing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press release, the nation’s high court said all scheduled oral arguments will be held in person at the Washington, D.C., courtroom for the term beginning on Oct. 3.

Seating will be made available to the public, members of the Supreme Court bar and the press.

Last term, the courtroom was not open to the public and mask-wearing was mandatory for those who appeared at the courthouse. Ahead of the winter oral sessions, attorneys were required to wear N95 or KN95 masks.

The news comes after NPR reported in January a spat between Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch over mask-wearing.

Sotomayor has type 1 diabetes and was concerned that Gorsuch was not wearing his mask during court sessions. She reportedly appeared remotely because of that concern.

The two justices later released a statement denying any tensions over the masks.

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