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How Do Terms Work?

Between October and late June or early July the Supreme Court is “in session,” meaning it hears oral arguments, issues written decisions, and decides whether to take additional cases.

Submitting petitions

Our legal team at the ACLU files a cert petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, a type of petition that usually argues that a lower court has incorrectly decided an important question of law that violates civil rights and should be fixed to prevent similar confusion in similar cases.

term starts

U.S. Supreme Court decides to take a case

On average, the Court considers about 7,000 ‐ 8,000 petitions each term and accepts about 80 for oral argument.

Oral arguments

This is the period where the U.S. Supreme Court listens to our case in court.

U.S. Supreme Court makes final decisions

While the U.S. Supreme Court makes decisions throughout the term, many are released right before the term ends. If a decision doesn't go in our favor, we fight back!