The Supreme Court Is Back In Session


Fred Schilling, Collection of th

The current nine justices of the Supreme Court; Credit: Fred Schilling

Sarah Salmi, Reporter '26

Located at One First Street, NE, in Washington DC lies the heart of American justice. Past the marble pillars, the twin statues of the Contemplation of Justice and Authority and Law, and inside the Court Chamber, decisions that change the future of America are made.

On October 3, 2022, the Supreme Court officially went back into session for their 2022-2023 term. Traditionally, the Supreme Court terms start on the first Monday of October, and can last until the summer, typically late June or early July. A term is made up of sittings, where the justices hear cases and deliver their opinions, and intervening recesses, where justices craft their opinions.

A sitting differs from a traditional trial in that the purpose of a sitting is not to decide innocence or guilt, but rather decide if the case was handled properly in its original jurisdiction. The justices’ rulings are also unique, as they base their decisions off of the U.S Constitution, and their rulings seek to decide if laws are constitutional. The justices will hear oral arguments, and according to the American Bar Association, “consider the records they are given, including lower court decisions for every step of a case, evidence, and the argument presented before them in making their final decision.”

A survey from Gallup, an American analytics company, found that only 47% of Americans said they had “a great deal” or “a fair amount of trust” in the Supreme Court, and the Judicial Branch as a whole, which is the lowest approval rate since the 1970s. The approval rate started to drop in 2020. That same survey found that 58% disapprove of the way the Supreme Court is doing its job, a new record high.

The Court consists of nine justices, including newly appointed Ketanji Brown Jackson. The Court has four women, and three people of color, making it one of the most diverse Courts in history. The last session reflected 6 conservative-leaning justices, and three liberal leaning justices. The Gallup survey that reported on America’s faith in the Supreme Court also found that 42% of Americans believe the Court is “too conservative”, 38% said that it was “about right”, and 18% believed it is “too liberal”. 

The Court has already scheduled most of the cases they will hear during the 2022-2023 term, with eight oral arguments scheduled in October, ten in November, nine in December, and nine cases left currently unscheduled. The cases deal with education, environmental protection, criminal justice, and Native American rights among other issues. 

Last year, in the 2021-2022 session, the Court caused uproar around the country when, in presiding over Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Court made the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had formerly protected abortions as a consitutional right. 

The cases that have received the most attention are 303 Creative LLC v Elenis; a case that challenges the Communication Clause of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act as a violation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech; companion cases Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. The President and Fellows of Harvard College, and SFFA v. The University of Northern Carolina, cases that deal with the constitutionality and ethics of race conscious admission processes, and Haaland v. Brackeen, a case that challenges the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Several oral arguments from the cases have already been heard, and the deliberation periods have begun.