The Supreme Court broke 2 of its strictest rules for the travel ban arguments -- and it shows how seriously they're taking the case

 

  • The Supreme Court made two major exceptions to its rules on Wednesday to accommodate oral arguments for President Donald Trump's travel ban.
  • The justices allowed audio of oral arguments to be released on the same day, and granted the plaintiff's lawyer extra time.
  • The moves indicate how significant the case is, and how much public interest the arguments have garnered.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday for President Donald Trump's travel ban — one of his most highly scrutinized executive orders to date.

The significance of Wednesday's arguments weren't lost on the justices, and they broke two of their famously rigid rules to accommodate the complexity of the case and the immense public interest it has attracted.

In a rarity for the tradition-oriented high court, the audio recording of the arguments was released shortly after they concluded. It's a move that has previously been reserved only for the most important landmark cases.

Unlike some lower courts, the Supreme Court doesn't allow video cameras, audio recorders, phones, laptops, or any other electronics in the courtroom during arguments. Journalists and visitors to the court are only allowed to report on proceedings the old-fashioned way — with pen and paper.

In October 2017, the court started posting transcripts of arguments on their website the same day, but you still have to wait until the end of the week to get the audio of arguments in normal cases.

The first time the justices agreed to bend the rule was in 2000 during the Bush v. Gore arguments over the presidential election, according to the Associated Press. The justices also released same-day audio after the 2015 oral arguments for the Obergefell v. Hodges case on same-sex marriage.

Precious extra minutes

Another unexpected departure from typical Supreme Court norms on Wednesday came just after Neal Katyal, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, made some closing statements after being questioned by the justices.

Typically, the lawyers representing each side of a Supreme Court case get half an hour during oral arguments to answer the justices' questions and round up their core arguments.

But on Wednesday, as Katyal drew to a close, Chief Justice John Roberts threw him a surprise offer.

"Take five extra minutes," Roberts said.

Katyal appeared stunned into silence for several moments.

"Uh, okay," he said, as the courtroom erupted into laughter.

"You don't have to," Roberts said, jokingly.

Katyal then said he would be happy to answer any remaining questions the justices had, but none spoke up.

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Protests against Trump's proposed travel ban
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Protests against Trump's proposed travel ban
People protest U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington, U.S. May 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder
A man holds an umbrella during a protest of U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington, U.S. May 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder
A protester from Amnesty International rallies against U.S. President Donald Trump's new executive order temporarily banning the entry of refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries in Sydney, Australia, March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Demonstrator protests against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban outside the offices of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
A woman protests against U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington, U.S. May 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder
Chrissy Pearce protests outside the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals courthouse in San Francisco, California February 7, 2017, ahead of the Court hearing arguments regarding President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Demonstrators protest against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban outside the offices of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
Demonstrators protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's revised travel ban outside the offices of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 28: Protestors rally in front of the Trump Building on Wall Street during a protest against the Trump administration's proposed travel ban and refugee policies, March 28, 2017 in New York City. The Trump administration's proposed travel ban includes a provision that would bar refugees entry into the United States for 120 days. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 28: Protestors place photographs of refugees in rafts in front of the Trump Building on Wall Street during a protest against the Trump administration's proposed travel ban and refugee policies, March 28, 2017 in New York City. The Trump administration's proposed travel ban includes a provision that would bar refugees entry into the United States for 120 days. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 16: Demonstrators protest outside the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on March 16, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrators were protesting the revised travel ban that the administration of President Donald Trump was trying to implement. The ban, which would restrict travel from six predominantly Muslim countries, was supposed to be instituted today but was halted yesterday by a federal judge in Hawaii. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather near The White House to protest President Donald Trump's travel ban on six Muslim countries on March 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Tasos Katopodis (Photo credit should read TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather near The White House to protest President Donald Trump's travel ban on six Muslim countries on March 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Tasos Katopodis (Photo credit should read TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 3: Protestors write messages directed toward President Donald Trump on lanterns near the Washington Monument, February 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. The protest is aimed at President Trump's travel ban policy. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Thousands of protesters with banners and placards march through central London during a demonstration against U.S. President Donald Trump on February 4, 2017 in London, England. Thousands of protesters march from the U.S. Embassy in London to Downing Street today against President Trump's executive order banning immigration to the USA from seven Muslim countries. (Photo by Jay Shaw Baker/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 29: Linda Sarsour attends a rally to protest the executive order that President Donald Trump signed clamping down on refugee admissions and temporarily restricting travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries in New York City on January 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 03: Demonstrators protest against US President Donald Trump's ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the US on February 3, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. The demonstrators are protesting against United States President Donald Trump's travel ban affecting citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Rosalie Gurna, 9, holds a sign in support of Muslim family members as people protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban on Muslim majority countries, at the International terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People protest against President Donald Trump's travel ban in New York City, U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Demonstrators participate in a protest by the Yemeni community against U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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SEE ALSO: The Supreme Court finally heard arguments on the travel ban — and Trump looks likely to win

DON'T MISS: People are blasting Trump's lawyer for calling Islam ‘one of great countries of the world’ while defending the so-called Muslim travel ban

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