Supreme Court to hear Trump taxes case in May -- and could deliver a ruling before the 2020 election

The US Supreme Court said Monday that it will hear arguments by teleconference in May over whether President Donald Trump can continue to shield his tax returns from Congress and New York prosecutors.

The nation's highest court had been scheduled to hear arguments in the cases on March 31 but they were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The court said it would hear the consolidated cases by telephone conference in May, a move which could allow it to deliver a ruling before the November presidential election.

"In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the Justices and counsel will all participate remotely," the court said in a statement.

Two of the justices -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer -- are over 80 years old and six of the nine are over 65, putting them at increased risk of becoming severely ill from coronavirus.

In a break with tradition, the court said it would provide a live audio feed of the May arguments to news organizations.

The court said oral arguments in 10 cases would be held May 4-6 and May 11-13 but it did not assign specific dates yet to each case.

Trump broke with presidential norms during the 2016 election by refusing to release his tax returns as most presidents have done since the 1970s even though it is not required by law.

The New York real estate tycoon claimed his tax returns were under audit by the Internal Revenue Service and he would release them when the audit was done but he has never done so.

Three cases involving attempts to force Trump to release his tax returns and financial records are before the court. They are seen as a key test of the limits of presidential privilege and immunity.

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr is investigating payments made by Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress who claimed to have had a sexual liaison with Trump before he ran for president in 2016.

Cohen is serving three years in prison after admitting paying hush money -- in violation of campaign finance laws -- to Daniels and another woman, tax fraud and lying to Congress.

A federal appeals court in New York ordered the accounting firm Mazars USA to release eight years of Trump's tax returns in regards to the investigation, leading his attorneys to approach the Supreme Court.

The other cases involve subpoenas for Trump's tax returns issued by committees in the Democratic-majority House of Representatives.

Since taking office, Trump has appointed two justices to the Supreme Court and conservative justices now have a five to four majority on the court.