The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will hear oral arguments by phone next month. Justices will hear arguments from lawyers remotely across six dates in the first two weeks of May in an effort to keep the business of the court moving during the coronavirus outbreak.
A statement from the Supreme Court, released April 13, said that ten cases would be assigned dates in the first two weeks of May.
Among those cases included in the revised schedule are the Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania and Trump v. Pennsylvania.
Those cases were originally slated to be heard April 29, but the court announced April 3 that they would be postponed, along with the other cases due for hearings across a two week window, “in keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19.”
The cases concern action by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to end the religious order’s exemption to the Department of Health and Human Services so-called contraception mandate.
In 2017, the Trump administration issued a rule exempting the Little Sisters and other religious entities from the mandate. State attorneys general for Pennsylvania and California then challenged the exemption in court.
The Little Sisters lost their case against Pennsylvania at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in July of 2019, and lost their case against California at the Ninth Circuit Court in October. They appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed in January to hear their case.
Also among the cases due to be heard remotely are Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel— both of which involve the “ministerial exception.” The cases focus on whether or not two Catholic schools in California are free to fire religion teachers without interference from the courts, due to the “ministerial exception” which exists under the First Amendment.
Becket, which also represents the schools, is arguing that the courts and government cannot “second-guess” the employment decisions of religious institutions on staff members who provide religious instruction to children.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.