Supreme Court Rules, Practices, and Traditions


After oral argument, when does the Court decide the case?

The Court meets in conference to discuss their initial votes in the case. The Court discusses the cases argued on Monday in its Wednesday afternoon conference meeting. For the cases argued on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Court discusses them in its Friday conference meeting.

The chief justice opens the discussions, outlining the applicable law and facts and his or her views of the case. This practice extends to all the justices in order of seniority. The justices also discuss how they plan to decide the case. The chief justice announces the vote. If the chief justice is in the majority, he or she assigns who will write the majority opinion for the Court. If the chief justice is in the minority, the most senior justice in the majority makes the opinion assignments.

There is no specific timetable for when the Court will issue its opinions, though in nearly all cases, the Court will issue a decision by the end of June. In a few cases, however, the Court will not issue an opinion and ask for re-argument. For example, the Roberts Court ordered re-argument in 2006 in the case of Garcetti v. Ceballos, a highly watched case involving the free-speech rights of public employees.


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