“Courtroom access will be limited to the Justices, essential Court personnel, counsel in the scheduled cases, and journalists with full-time press credentials issued by the Supreme Court,” the court said in a news release.
It added: “The Court will continue to closely monitor public health guidance in determining plans.”
The court will provide live audio of the proceedings in October, November and December, as it has been doing in cases heard by teleconference.
The court has not held arguments in person since March 2020. All were held remotely last term. But all nine justices are vaccinated against the coronavirus, the court has said, and they began to meet together for their private conferences this past spring.
It will be a new court that returns to the mahogany bench. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate last October, has never sat for hearings with her colleagues in person.
She replaced Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died nearly a year ago. When Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. takes his position at the center of the court, the most senior justice, Clarence Thomas, will be at his right. Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who was confirmed three years after Thomas, in 1994, will be on Roberts’s left.
The court did not announce whether its return to the bench will also mean a return to the rapid questioning style of oral arguments, where justices ask at will and jump in whenever there is a break.
During the teleconference hearings, the justices asked questions by seniority, with Roberts playing timekeeper and referee. In that format, Thomas, who has asked few questions during his nearly three decades on the court, was an active participant.
The decision to provide audio also means that the public can listen live to the court’s deliberations on at least one of the court’s most controversial cases of the term, a battle over a New York gun-control law. It is scheduled for Nov. 3.
The court has not released its calendar for hearings in the period from Nov. 29 to Dec. 8. But it is possible that it would hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, about Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks. Conservative activists are urging the court to use the case to overturn Roe v. Wade.