One of the most life-changing things about living in Washington D.C. is that you have a chance to get up close and personal with the inner workings of our government and justice systems. The Supreme Court is here, and where the legal buck stops.
Witnessing law in action is one thing every DC intern should not miss! That would be a crime.
“EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW”
These words are written above the main entrance to the Supreme Court Building to express the ultimate responsibility of the Supreme Court of the United States.
One thing that we recommend absolutely every intern in D.C. do, whether interested in law or politics or not, is attend a Supreme Court Oral Argument. Why not?
Most days, the Supreme Court is the most exciting and energized place to be in all of D.C. The annual session begins each Fall on the first Monday in October.
That’s when the 9 justices hear cases and deliver opinions that can dramatically affect the rulings of law that affect every single American. Imagine witnessing that firsthand!
Well, that’s one of the coolest things about Supreme Court sessions!
They are open to the public, on a first-come-first-serve basis (be prepared to wait in long lines early in the morning if you really want to get in).
Visitors are allowed to attend proceedings to watch our country’s top lawyers go head to head on opposing sides to make a convincing case for their client. The justices repeatedly interject with sharp questioning to clarify the constitutional principles at stake. They don’t miss much!
It’s one of the greatest high-energy, fast-paced, heated (at times) displays of law in action you will ever witness.
Each session is weighed heavily with importance, as the justices only hear about 100 of the most vital petitions filed with the Court every year – out of 10,000!
What is a Supreme Court Oral Argument?
The Supreme Court holds oral argument in about 70-80 cases each year. These arguments are an opportunity for the Justices to ask questions of the attorneys representing the parties involved, face-to-face. It’s also the chance for the attorneys to then highlight the arguments that they view as particularly important to their clients’ case.
Arguments are generally scheduled on specified Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings beginning in October and they continue through the end of April. The Court usually holds two arguments each day starting at 10:00 a.m. that last one hour.
If you’re interested in attending a specific case, you can find each session listed on the Court’s yearly calendar. The calendar lists each case along with the names of the attorneys scheduled to argue them.
Can’t get in or live too far away? Here’s the transcripts of the cases held before the court.
The Supreme Court Building is awesome in size, in classic Washington architecture and rich in ornamentation. It serves as both home to our nation’s highest Court and a monumental symbol of its importance as a co-equal, independent branch of government.
Being witness to a Supreme Court Oral Argument is being witness to history.
All Court rulings are final and reversible only by an Act of Congress. You, as a visitor, get a close-up seat to the rulings that continue to define our country and our people.
Attending an oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court is a singular experience that promises an opportunity to witness first-class advocacy and informed public debate on critical social issues. It’s something that we strongly encourage all interns to take advantage of while living in Washington. Humbling, eye-opening and inspiring, it’s an experience you will never forget!
The Supreme Court of the United States
One First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20543