What is an "October Term"?:
It occurs to me that some readers probably find it pretty confusing when they come across references to Supreme Court "Terms," "October Terms," and the like. To clarify, the Supreme Court works on a yearly calendar schedule. The first day of the Supreme Court's annual schedule is the first Monday in October, as set by a federal statute. To simplify a bit, everything the Court does starting on that day in October until the same day the next year is part of the "October Term" of that year. The Court generally starts hearing oral argument for the cases on its docket on that day, and generally hears cases on and off until the early spring. The Court then tries to get (and under Rehnquist, succeeeds in getting) all of those cases decided and published by the end of June.

  Why are people talking about the end of the Supreme Court's Term as being on this past Monday if the Term doesn't end technically until October? Because the remaining summer months are mostly downtime at the Supreme Court. While there is always work to be done, ranging from emergency motions and the review of cert petitions to the training of new law clerks, the Court normally doesn't hear cases or publish new decisions during that time. In a practical sense, then, the Term "ends" at the end of June when the merits cases heard since October have been decided. (If a case is scheduled for a hearing over the summer, however, it will still be considered part of the preceding October Term. For example, the campaign finance case was scheduled for argument in September 2003, and was thus technically a case that is part of October Term 2002. But that is relatively rare.)

  The bottom line is that if you hear that someone is writing a book on (say) the October Term 1986, or that somene clerked at the Supreme Court for the October Term 1986, the phrase "October Term 1986" is pretty much just a fancy way of saying "from July 1986 through June 1987."
I just tell my friends that it tracks with the average school year... or the NBA or NHL season.
6.29.2005 5:05pm
SupremacyClaus (mail):
The Supreme Court has to go to Europe to get their new instructions from their Euro mentors for next term's decisions.

The early dementia tires them easily. They need to recover from the strain of the brilliant decisions they just delivered.

It is an excellent idea to be out of the country, before the public has a chance to understand the devastation inflicted by these cult cappos.
6.29.2005 5:45pm
ajpiano (mail) (www):
From the way you explained it, I would have thought the October Term of 86 would have been from October 1986 - September 1987. If September '03 is part of October '02, then wouldn't September '87 be part of October '86? Can someone explain if and why I'm wrong?

6.29.2005 5:55pm
John Jenkins (mail):
The clerks who will work on that year start in July, before the new cases are heard. They are trained from July to October and start working on cases, etc. At the end of the next June, the clerks' services are no longer really necessary b/c all of the opinions for that term have been written. The Court's term is from Oct-Sept, the term for the clerks is Jul-Jun.
6.29.2005 6:05pm
SupremacyClaus (mail):
Kelo in action:

"Protests have become increasingly common in China, fueled by corruption and the widening wealth gap, but authorities are keen to quickly quash dissent and preserve stability.

There were more than 58,000 protests, many of them over land rights disputes, across the country in 2003, a Communist Party-backed magazine, Outlook, has reported.

This month, villagers in northern Hebei province protesting to keep their land were attacked by a group of armed hired toughs. Six farmers were killed and 48 injured in the ensuing battle."

Drop in Supreme Court confidence rating is disturbing.
6.29.2005 6:23pm
Adam, sorry if I wasn't clear. Technically, the Term is October to September. As a practical matter, the Term is July to June. Thus all the "End of the Term" discussion now even though in a technical sense the Term isn't over yet.

SupremacyClaus, can you explain how your comments are on point? I don't like having to delete comments, but I do think it is important that all comments must be directly relevant to the post. I realize that some may feel it is a bit overbearing to delete comments, but I think it's fair given how easy it is to get a blog and use trackbacks.
6.29.2005 6:38pm
Prof. Kerr, you only need to browse a few of the other posts to see that SupremacyClaus is a serial troll. He routinely advocates terrorist acts against lawyers and judges; perhaps he thinks this makes for a "funny" persona, but I am surprised his comments are not moderated more closely.
6.29.2005 6:44pm
SupremacyClaus (mail):
Prof. Kerr: Thank you for your interest.

The Supreme Court are government employees. As their employer, I need an explanation for the long vacations. They seem abusive. Congress should pass legislation to require they put in 40 hour weeks, and that their vacations be in accordance with ordinary civil service privileges. They should receive overtime pay for their additional efforts past 5 PM. I also want their phone calls listed, to make sure no unauthorized calls have been placed on government lines. Such fairness would help to reverse the trend in the poll you cited.

I request transparency about their activities during the summer season. Post the content of their Euro seminars so that we may know the instructions they have received from their Euro mentors for the subsequent October term certs. They listen to no one here, as if it is part of their job to refuse to respond or explain anything to their bosses, us. The poodle trainers teach them new tricks to play on us every year. They hop right to it, waiting for an approving tummy rub.

I request that past the age of 50, neuropsychological testing be done yearly, the scores posted publicly. The concept of Alzheimer Disease was not established when the god like Founding Fathers made one of their 3 greatest mistakes with 1) this court 2) the lifetime appointment. (The 3rd biggest mistake was not ending slavery peacefully, as most civilized nations easily did. This court was a bigger mistake than that, and continues to ravage this nation.) The nation cannot properly be ruled by people with deteriorating mentation.

The Supreme Court has affirmative duties. One is to not set off a violent revolt, as they did in Dred Scott. The other is to maintain respect for an essential utility product, the rule of law. When they get stupid, they are failing in these duties. The poll you cite is on the path to the full flowering of Kelo, as seen in Chinese land riots. I know of no difference between Chinese and Americans, as people. If anything, Chinese people tend to be more peaceful. Their self-help present is our Kelo future.

The simplest correction, right now? Change the number of seats to an even number. Tied votes uphold lower court decisions, often trying to comply with prior SC decisions. Many of this year's decisions would not have taken place.

I hope this helps.
6.29.2005 8:00pm
SupremacyClaus (mail):
Steve: Minor correction. I do not advocate terrorist acts against anyone. I advocate that the Executive branch begin to carry out its duty to uphold the Constitution, by arresting and removing justices that violate Article I Section I, putting them on trial, then sending them to Federal prison, if convicted by a jury of peers.

As an act of leadership, it should first persuade the highest branch, Congress, that starting to make more of the law itself is its responsibility and is good for our nation. Right now, the SC is left to make laws which Congress prefers to evade.

I appreciate your interest in my work. I have to stop here, since both our posts are off the topic of the SC schedule.
6.29.2005 8:11pm
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
Some historical context would help.

The "October Term" is a relic of the days when the Supreme Court was in session only part time, meeting twice a year in February and August. It wouldn't make sense to have a term named after a month if the body only met once a year, right? The justices spent much of the year "riding circuit" and hearing cases all over the place. The August term was abolished in 1802, so that the court met only once a year from then on. The start of the term was then pushed forward until it reached the first Monday in October in 1917.
6.30.2005 4:33am