Supreme Court to resume issuing decisions in courtroom

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is restoring another pre-pandemic tradition, announcing decisions in a public session in the courtroom.

Beginning in January, or whenever the first opinions of the term are ready, the justices will read summaries of their majority opinions from the bench, the court said Monday.

The long-standing practice was abandoned when the coronavirus pandemic forced a shutdown of the court in March 2020.

For the past two years, the court has issued opinions exclusively on its website, at 10-minute intervals when the justices have decisions in more than one case to hand down.

The resumption of the courtroom announcements also will allow dissenting justices to hold forth to underscore their disagreement with the majority’s conclusion in the court’s biggest cases.

Major decisions await over elections, the use of race in college admissions and the clash of religion and gay rights.

Past considerations of abortion, affirmative action and same-sex marriage all produced courtroom dissents.

But there was no similar opportunity for the dissenters in June’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade’s protection for abortion, or in other closely contested decisions involving guns, religious rights, immigration and the environment.

The court has returned to the courtroom for arguments, after a pause of nearly 18 months, and the building itself is now open again to the public.

One pandemic-inspired change has been retained by a court famously wary of technology. Livestreamed arguments, first introduced in May 2020, have continued even as the court has otherwise returned to its old ways.

But the opinion announcements won’t be part of the livestream, the court said. Instead, the National Archives will make the audio available at the start of the next term in October.

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