First Supreme Court Closedown Since the Spanish Flu

By on March 20, 2020

March 20, 2020

On March 12, the Supreme Court announced that it is closed to the public “until further notice” “[o]ut of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees.” This is the first disease-related closure of the building to the public since the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918. Closures of any kind are rare. According to the Supreme Court Historical Society, the court even remained open during a snowstorm nearly 20 years ago that shut down much of the rest of the federal government. This is the only time the current Supreme Court building has closed to the public due to an epidemic. When the Supreme Court closed in 1918 it still met in the Old Senate Chamber in the Capitol. In October 2001, the Supreme Court building closed to the public due to the discovery of anthrax spores in an offsite court mail warehouse. The justices heard oral argument for one week at a nearby federal courthouse. The court has not indicated whether oral arguments will be suspended as they were a century ago.

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