Why does the United States Supreme Court get three months off each year? Slate’s Amanda Frost writes, “Should the leaders of the judicial branch be in a position to use ‘summer’ as a verb, particularly when they take advantage of the time off to moonlight as law professors? Or is the summer break a harmless perk?” She says the summer recess comes with some significant costs, including the piling up of thousands of legal petitions that must await the justices’ return.
Long before he was on the court, Chief Justice John Roberts quipped, “Only Supreme Court justices and schoolchildren are expected to and do take the entire summer off.” Frost writes, “The justices are free to leave town as soon as they issue their last decision of the term in late June, and they are usually not to be found back in the nation's capital until the first Monday in October—the official start of the new Supreme Court term. Many of the justices use this chunk of free time to travel, lecture, write books, and teach, among other activities.” This summer, Antonin Scalia spent most of the summer teaching in Austria, Roberts taught in Malta, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito in Italy.