The Court’s online calendar has now been updated to show argument sittings and conferences planned for the next term.
It shows the expected burst of conferences beginning in mid-August as the Court returns from its break. There are two-day conferences on August 16-17 and on August 23-24. We can expect a flurry of opinions on August 27, 2010, as the Court clears out what cases it can from the term that is ending.
Last week’s orders told us about the Court’s first two argument sittings (on Sept. 14-16, 2010 and Oct. 12-14, 2010), which have been assigned to the 18 pending cases that had accumulated during the late spring.
The calendar now shows the other argument dates expected for the year: Nov. 9-10, 2010; Dec. 7-9, 2010; Jan. 4-6, 2011; Feb. 1-3, 2011; and Mar. 1-3, 2011. If there are three arguments heard per day, that’s room for 42 more cases to be heard at oral argument next term.
Sixty oral arguments in a term does not sound like a high number, but this may just leave the Court room to expand the schedule as needed. (( Last year, the Court scheduled two separate three-day argument sittings for April 2010 but only filled one of them. This year, April is not included in the initial list. The Court can, of course, add argument sittings. ))
This also continues the Court’s highly seasonal pattern for oral arguments. They are held in fall and winter; there is roughly a six-month gap between the last arguments of one term and the first of the next.
When Conferences Fall Relative to Oral Argument
The Court also released its conference schedule. Like last year, the main conference generally falls on the second week of each month.
But there are two small changes. First is that the Court has noted some extra one-day conferences from February through May, which seem aimed at helping the Court decide already pending cases.
Second is when the conference falls relative to oral argument. Last year, the conference usually came the week before the argument sitting. (( That pattern held in November, December, January, February, and April. In March, the argument sitting was delayed a month, presumably for spring break. )) This year, the conference falls the week after the oral argument sitting. (( That pattern holds in October, December, January, February, and March. The September and November calendars have the conference coming one week later. ))
That may just be a quirk. Or it may suggest a change in how the Court will handle deliberations about newly argued cases. Time (and perhaps a panel of Justices at the next major CLE program) will tell.