The Daily Brew: The procedures for the upcoming SCOTUS term

Welcome to the Monday, October 4, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. SCOTUS releases COVID-19 procedures for oral arguments
  2. Harris casts ninth tie-breaking vote as vice president
  3. Today in ballot measure history: Louisiana voters approve 11 of 15 legislatively referred constitutional amendments

SCOTUS releases COVID-19 procedures for oral arguments

On Sept. 27, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released new procedures for oral arguments during the October, November, and December sittings of the 2021-2022 term, in accordance with the court’s COVID-19 protocols.

Here’s a rundown, according to the clerk of court’s announcement:

  1. Arguing counsel attending arguments are required to take a COVID test the morning before argument.
  2. Arguing counsel who test positive for COVID can participate in arguments remotely via teleconference.
  3. Arguing counsel will be apprised of courtroom procedures and may ask questions before arguments in the court’s lawyer’s lounge. Argument audio will be made available in the lawyer’s lounge. Counsel in the first case argued for the day must leave the court building after arguments in their case conclude.
  4. Counsel are required to wear masks covering their noses and mouths at all times while within the court building, except when eating or drinking. Counsel are required to wear N95 or KN95 masks in the courtroom, except when presenting arguments. Masks will be provided by the court.

SCOTUS announced on Sept. 8 that the court would hear oral arguments in person for the first time since Mar. 4, 2020. Argument audio will be streamed live to the public following the precedent set during the 2020-2021 term. Audio files and argument transcripts will be posted on the Court’s website following oral argument each day.

The Supreme Court’s October sitting is scheduled to begin today. Nine cases have been scheduled for a total of nine hours of oral argument. 

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Harris casts ninth tie-breaking vote as vice president

Vice President Kamala Harris (D) cast her ninth tie-breaking vote as the president of the Senate on Sept. 30. She voted to support a motion invoking cloture on the nomination of Rohit Chopra for director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after a 50-50 tie. Chopra was ultimately confirmed by a 50-48 vote.

Six of Harris’ tie-breaking votes have been related to advancing or confirming presidential nominees. In the past 40 years, only Vice President Mike Pence (R) has cast more tie-breaking votes: 13.

John Adams cast the first tie-breaking vote on July 18, 1789. In total, there have been 277 tie-breaking votes from 37 vice presidents. Twelve vice presidents, including Joe Biden (D) and Dan Quayle (R), never cast a tie-breaking vote during their time in office

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Today in ballot measure history: Louisiana voters approve 11 of 15 legislatively referred constitutional amendments

Eighteen years ago today, on Oct. 4, 2003, Louisiana voters approved 11 of 15 proposed amendments to the state constitution. The state legislature had referred each measure to the ballot. ​​Here are some highlights from what was approved:

  • The Louisiana Coastal Restoration Fund was established and funded through money from the state’s tobacco litigation. 
  • The Louisiana Property Rights Act limited the state’s liability for damages to private property incurred due to coastal restoration projects.
  • The Louisiana Education Act allowed the state board of education to take control of failing schools.
  • The Louisiana Highway Projects Act led to modifications to the highway widening program.

A total of 52 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Louisiana during odd-numbered years from 1999 through 2019. The number of amendments ranged from 4 to 16, with an average of 5. Of the 52 amendments, 36 (69.23%) were approved and 16 (30.77%) were defeated.

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