Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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October 2nd
Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!
The U.S. Supreme Court begins its work year on the first Monday in October. The term opens with the traditional chant of the court crier: “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court!” Oyez is an old Anglo-French term meaning “Hear ye.”

The nine black-robed justices meet in Washington, D.C., in a courthouse resembling a Roman temple, one of the largest marble buildings in the world. Carved above the main entrance are the words EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW.

One of the Court’s many traditions, the “Conference handshake,” dates to the late nineteenth century. When the justices gather to sit on the bench, and when they meet in private to discuss decisions, each shakes hands with the other eight. According to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller began the practice “as a reminder that differences of opinion on the Court did not preclude overall harmony of purpose.”

The justices and their clerks stay busy, with more than 10,000 cases on the docket each term. The Supreme Court hears oral arguments in about 100 cases and produces thousands of pages of written opinions each year.

The Court’s main job is to interpret and protect the Constitution. Few other courts in the world have such power, and none has exercised it as long. As Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes observed, the U.S. Supreme Court is “distinctly American in concept and function.”

American History Parade
1780
In Tappan, New York, British major John André is hanged as a spy after he is captured carrying papers for traitor Benedict Arnold.

1835
In Tappan, New York, British major John André is hanged as a spy after he is captured carrying papers for traitor Benedict Arnold.

1919
President Woodrow Wilson suffers a stroke that leaves him an invalid.

1950
The comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz is first published.

1967
Thurgood Marshall, the first black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, is sworn in.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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