The U.S. Supreme Court will be closed to the public “until further notice” as of 4:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon due to concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The court is doing so, it says, out of concern for the health of both the public and Supreme Court employees.
Per the a statement obtained by Law&Crime from the high court’s Public Information Office:
Out of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees, the Supreme Court Building will be closed to the public from 4:30 p.m. on March 12, 2020, until further notice. The Building will remain open for official business, and case filing deadlines are not extended under Rule 30.1.
The announcement is now prominently displayed on the Supreme Court’s website.
Amid concerns that COVID-19 presents an increasing threat to courts, attendees, court officials and lawyers, it was reported earlier Thursday that 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 Supreme Court will remain open for official business. It’s not yet clear how the rest of the nation’s courts will respond, but it seems likely that they will follow the Supreme Court’s lead.
Update, 4:15 p.m.: And the dominoes are falling.
[Image via ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images]
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