Well, you know, John, it was normal and it was unusual.
It was normal that there were actually judges on the bench and they were hearing oral arguments. But it was unusual.
On the first day at the Supreme Court, you usually have a court building filled with tourists on the lower level, people waiting to get seats in the courtroom, lines of lawyers waiting to take oath at the bar. and the whole floor seems to be buzzing with conversation, but today there is silence, some police officers of the Supreme Court, some employees going in and out of the offices, all masked.
You go into the courtroom, and you see the press, those of us who were present, we were in public seats, not in the general press section, but in public seats, so that we could spread. And we were masked. And, also, the lawyers who were going to argue were limited to having only one other lawyer with them – previously, you could have that table full of a team of lawyers – also masked.
In the guest section for the judges, there was hardly anyone, but Justice Kennedy, the retired Justice Kennedy, appeared in the mask. Justin Breyer’s wife was there in a mask. And Justice Barrett’s husband showed up masked, and was appropriately given away.
So it was weird. And then, during the arguments, as you mentioned, they were all on the bench except Justice Kavanaugh, who tested positive for COVID last week and is staying out of arguments this week. But he ran away. So you had this fragmentary voice echoing in the courtroom when he asked the question.
The only justice who wore a mask was Justice Sotomayor, and I think because of being extra cautious, and since he is a diabetic.
So, it was weird, and then it wasn’t weird.