Supreme Court Rules, Practices, and Traditions

The Term

When did the Court first begin its terms on the first Monday of October?

The U.S. Supreme Court first began its term on the first Monday in October 1917. Congress had passed a law effectuating such a change in a 1916 statute. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Court was beginning its term in December and meeting through March. However, the Court’s docket exploded in growth, as it was hearing many more cases. To accommodate the expanding docket, Congress allowed the Court in 1866 to set its own starting point for its terms. The Court moved its starting time until October. In 1873, Congress formalized this development by passing a law that moved the Court’s term from the first Monday of December to the second Monday in October. It remained there until 1917.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Supreme Court Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App