On April 13, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court Public Information Office released a statement announcing that the court would hear oral arguments by telephone conference during the May 2020 argument session. For the first time in history, the court provided a live audio feed of these arguments to the general public and news media. Over 130,000 people tuned in live to arguments in May 2020, compared to the 50-100 members of the public who are able to attend in-person oral arguments in each case when the court is open.
On September 16, 2020, the court reauthorized streaming arguments via telephone conference throughout the October 2020 term. The court subsequently reauthorized telephonic arguments on a monthly basis through May 2021. Providing live audio access to these cases has convincingly demonstrated the public’s appetite to observe the operations of the court and has shown that the court can balance increased access with the integrity of its proceedings.
As of January 13, 2022, oral arguments from the May 2020 session (May 1-May 31, 2020) have been streamed over 2 million times, and oral arguments from the October 2020 term (October 5, 2020 - July 1, 2021) have been streamed at least 995,088 times.
Below is a summary. Numbers are current as of January 13, 2022.