Supreme Court at Work

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is in session from the first Monday in October until June, or sometimes July. When the Court is in session, it meets on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays to hear oral arguments. Cases are generally allotted one hour for oral arguments, with each side being given equal time. Attorneys often spend the period of oral arguments answering questions from the justices. In addition, with the permission of both parties in the case, third parties may submit written arguments, which are called amicus curiae ("friend of the court"), to support the views of either side. After oral argument are heard, the Court meets to discuss the case. A vote is held and, if the court upholds the view proffered by the chief justice, then he or she assigns one of the justices to write an opinion. Otherwise, the most senior justice on the majority side handles the assignment. The court then hands down the decision. The majority opinion is always handed down, but the opinions of justices who dissent are often handed down as well. In addition, justices who agree with the decision, but not with the full majority opinion issued, often write concurring opinions. .