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Supreme Court Should Go Remote, Televise Hearings, Survey Finds

Poll by PSB Research shows Americans wants Supreme Court to convene remotely during pandemic.

WASHINGTON—Most Americans appear to believe that the Supreme Court is essential and should still be hearing arguments, even if it is online. This was one of the key findings of a new PSB Research poll, which also asked whether or not any remote hearings should also be televised.

The Supreme Court suspended oral arguments in March because of the coronavirus and announced last week that it would do so again for April. A majority of Americans want to see the highest court in the land continue its responsibilities.

According to the PSB Research survey, 72% say the Supreme Court should be convening online during the pandemic for oral arguments; 13% were opposed. In addition, when asked whether or not these remote oral arguments should be televised—a longtime point of contention—61% were in favor compared to 22% opposed; 64% were in favor of television coverage for Supreme Court arguments in normal circumstances as well.

PSB Research said that Americans were “uniquely” unified across age, gender and party lines that the Supreme Court should be continuing their work.

“The numbers are conclusive. The American public expects Supreme Court justices to use modern technology to continue doing their jobs, and that includes hearing oral arguments,” said Gabe Roth, executive director at Fix the Court, which shared the results. “A pandemic may sound like a good excuse for reducing the justices’ workload, but since the places we’re all stuck—at home, in front of our computers—have everything you’d need to keep hearing cases, that excuse falls short.”

Fix the Court makes note that several appeals courts, at both the state and federal levels, have transitioned to virtual arguments.

The full results from the PSB Research survey are available online.