Why the Supreme Court starts on the first Monday in October – National Constitution Center
Today, the Supreme Court starts its new term on the first Monday of the month of October, an annual event that goes back to 1917. Why is that day so special and when did the Justices start their annual sessions before then?
If the Supreme Court is about anything, other than the Constitution and the rule of law, it is about tradition. In this case, the Court’s start date is mandated by a law passed by Congress. In 1916, Congress moved the Court term’s start date from the second Monday in October to the current one.
Originally, the Judiciary Act of 1789 set two annual sessions for the Court. Starting in 1791, the Court met on the first Monday of February, with the second session in August. At the time, the Justices also had to travel regionally to hear court cases.
Over the years, the Court consolidated its two sessions into one annual term in 1802, and then started that term on the first Monday in January (1827), first Monday in December (1844) and second Monday in October (1873).
The change to the current first Monday in October was approved on September 6, 1916, as part of the act to redefine the Judicial Code and expand the number of appeals petitions considered by the Court. The new start date took effect in 1917.