All Justices Healthy, But Skipping Usual Handshake, Court Says

March 20, 2020, 7:59 PM

All of the U.S. Supreme Court justices are healthy and following public health guidance amid the coronavirus outbreak, like forgoing their traditional handshake, the court said.

They will issue orders and opinions on Monday, but they will not take the bench to do so, as they normally would, according to Supreme Court spokeswomen Kathleen Arberg.

Instead, opinions will be posted on the court’s website in five-minute intervals, she said.

The justices held their regularly scheduled conference on Friday morning, where they discussed which cases they want to hear, Arberg said.

“A number” of the justices participated remotely, though, she said without specifying who they were.

The Supreme Court canceled the March argument sitting, but otherwise work continues—with a few tweaks.

Like other courts, the Supreme Court is adjusting its guidance on how the court will operate as the nation grapples with the coronavirus.

On Thursday, the justices relaxed deadlines for some cases that weren’t yet filed.

In particular, the justices extended from 90 to 150 days the time to file a petition for certiorari, or a request for high court review of a lower court decision.

According to statute, that’s the last date such a petition can be filed in civil cases, meaning there are no more extensions possible.

So now everyone automatically gets a 60 day extension for petitions, Hogan Lovells partner Sean Marotta said. But “attorneys shouldn’t expect any time past that,” he said.

“In criminal cases, there is no statutory deadline for filing petitions for certiorari,” Jenner & Block’s Adam G. Unikowsky said.

Unikowsky said he suspects such extensions, however, will be “unlikely absent extraordinary circumstances.”

Civil procedure professor Robin Effron said relief from filing deadlines in both civil and criminal cases will likely come from lower courts, rather than the Supreme Court itself.

It’s a lower court’s decision that typically kicks off the time to file a cert. petition, Effron said.

But lower courts are undoubtedly experiencing their own delays, including issuing orders and opinions, she said.

“It’s not an actual grant of extra time,” though, Effron said, “because parties can only do but so much to prepare a cert petition before they’ve seen the actual disposition” from the court below.

It’s simply “delaying everything so that the clock doesn’t start running again until the world starts returning to normal,” Effron said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at krobinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com

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