|Amid insurrection and impeachment, the Supreme Court's big news Thursday was a decision in a bankruptcy case. Wednesday brought arguments over the Federal Trade Commission's ability to recapture ill-gotten gains.
At this fraught moment in U.S. history, the court is doing its best to keep its head down, going about its regular business and putting off as many politically charged issues as it can, including whether President Donald Trump's tax returns must be turned over to prosecutors in New York.
Still, the justices have not been able to completely avoid controversy in recent days. On Tuesday, the court's conservative majority that includes three Trump appointees cleared the way for the administration to execute a woman for the first time in 67 years and also allowed the administration to reinstate a requirement that pregnant women wanting an abortion pick up a pill in person from a medical facility, despite the risks of contracting COVID-19.
The court's work continues even though the coronavirus pandemic is preventing the justices from meeting in person, either for their private conferences or argument sessions. Chief Justice John Roberts has received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but not every member of the court has, the court said.
The building itself has been closed to the public since March because of the pandemic. Since the weekend, it has been ringed by hard-to-climb fences that also surround the Capitol.
But arguments this week took place as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening, although the ability to listen live to the arguments is a product of the pandemic. Justices made pop culture references to Taylor Swift and the Netflix series “Dirty Money.”
They issued a unanimous decision in a bankruptcy case from Chicago, and they are convening again in private on Friday to discuss new cases to add to their docket.
The workmanlike approach is typical of the court, but it also aligns with the repeated efforts of Roberts to keep his court out of politics as much as possible, especially during Trump's presidency.