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SCOTUS To Take Up Two PA Contraception Cases, And For The First Time, You Can Tune In Live

J. Scott Applewhite
Oral arguments in a new session of the U.S. Supreme Court begin at 10 a.m. Monday, May 4, 2020. For the first time, Americans can tune in for live audio as justices join by phone.


On today's program: What to listen for as the U.S. Supreme Court livestreams oral arguments for the first time; historians and archivists set out to document life during coronavirus; and a new biography of Andy Warhol reexamines his impact on the art world. 

SCOTUS to consider two Pennsylvania cases this week
(00:00 — 9:33) 

The nation’s highest court will hear oral arguments today in a new era of Supreme Court protocols. For the first time, the nation will be able to tune in live.

“This has been a constant source of criticism of the Supreme Court,” says Amy Wildermuth, dean of the University of Pittsburgh Law School and a one-time clerk for late Justice John Paul Stevens. “Not allowing sort of a live stream, at least of the audio, has been viewed by many as problematic. So here we go!” 

On the docket are 10 cases, including twofrom Pennsylvania, both of which question whether employers can deny insurance for employee’s contraception on religious grounds. In a separate case, Justice Samuel Alito has also called for a response to the petition of a group that seeks to end enforcement of Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order.

Wildermuth says they all could make for interesting listening: “We don’t often get this peek into the Supreme Court, but this is a real opening up, I think, of the Supreme Court to the public more generally.”

Audio of the arguments will be available live on C-SPAN. 

Documenting the coronavirus pandemic
(9:41 — 13:25) 

The Beaver County Genealogy and History Center is collecting personal histories, photos, journal entries, signs announcing business closures and more that will help document how area residents lived through the coronavirus pandemic.

Lauraly Burnecke, the organization’s president, says the budding collection will help preserve Beaver County history for future generations. Submissions can be sent by mail or via email

Biography paints Andy Warhol as the ultimate self-made man
(13:28 — 17:59) 

Andy Warhol was surely the most influential artist ever born in Pittsburgh, and a new biography argues that he was also the most important artist of the 20th century

“He really radically changed the whole definition of art. I mean, he even turned himself into maybe his most important artwork. He became a performance artist, if you like, by becoming this weird character called Andy Warhol,” says the book’s author, Blake Gopnik

90.5 WESA’s Bill O’Driscoll talks to Gopnik about Warhol’s legacy and lasting influence.

90.5 WESA’s Julia Zenkevich contributed to this report. 

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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