A New Way to Govern?

For the first time in its history the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments via telephone hookup and will livestream the audio (https://www.npr.org/2020/05/04/847785015/supreme-court-arguments-resume-but-with-a-twist). The Court will try to resume business as usual to the best of its ability, maintaining similar rules and decorum, albeit with some challenges as the lawyers and judges will be unable to see each other.

While this is a first for the judicial branch, the executive branches of the federal and state governments have embraced online methods for daily press conferences, briefings, and updates. This has been helpful for many, but has also received its fair share of criticism as daily updates have become repetitive or even sometimes contradictory. President Trump, an avid user of online mediums, has already decreased the frequency of his briefings. That being said, he is still as active as ever on Twitter. Will we see governors using these tools more often once this pandemic subsides or will this just serve as a temporary fix?

Legislatures have not used these resources as much, limiting when and if they meet. Several state legislatures have met in person, following social distancing guidelines in order to pass crucial legislation for economic relief and medical guidelines. The US Congress will resume today after extending their recess back in mid-April, however only the Senate will return. Could we see the House eventually reconvene, even remotely, or will its size limit its capacity to function? Could these limitations pose a threat to their authority as the executive has taken center stage (just look at Michigan as an example).

While state and federal governments have taken many precautions using these online resources, they still serve as a huge targets for hacking and even cyber terrorism. Is Congress hesitant to resume session online because of the risks of manipulated or fraudulent voting? Hopefully the next two weeks of remote oral arguments will provide more insight into remote government functions, allowing the House to resume and giving federal cyber security more time to prepare adequate protection.

Image Credit: Mark Sherman/AP

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