Amid concerns that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents an increasing threat to courts, attendees, court officials and lawyers, an unidentified Department of Justice lawyer is presumed to have contracted the virus.
According to NBC News, which cited U.S. officials, a DOJ building in Washington, D.C. was shut down Wednesday night in order to disinfect the premises. The lawyer in question recently traveled to California, where a state of emergency has been declared.
Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt reportedly told employees by email on Wednesday that a lawyer in the DOJ Civil Division’s Liberty Square Building is going to self-quarantine for two weeks and is “presumptively” a positive coronavirus case because symptoms were consistent with the disease.
The lawyer has not been tested, however. The lawyer made a court appearance in San Francisco last week and then went back to the D.C. office. The situation may impact DOJ’s decision-making when it comes to employee travel and, therefore, may impact court proceedings themselves.
Congress has already made the decision to close the U.S. Capitol, House and Senate buildings to the public until April 1, raising questions about whether the Supreme Court will follow suit and how such a move might also impact the high court’s proceedings.
If the Supreme Court does the same, which would be wise, all things considered, it should make all oral arguments accessible to the public live on its website.
Anything less, or short of cancelling the session, would be unacceptable. https://t.co/gpTfcm4j7p
— Cristian Farias (@cristianafarias) March 12, 2020
[Image via Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images]