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Chief Justice Melvin Fuller began the tradition of the "conference handshake," a ritual where each justice shakes the hand of every other justice, in the 19th century. The handshake takes place immediately before the justices take the bench in open court or enter the conference room to discuss a case. The purpose of the handshake is to remind the justices that even when they disagree, they are still united for a common purpose.

On days when the Court is in session, arguments are typically heard at 10:00 or 11:00 am, so the handshake would occur shortly before the justices are seated.

Conferences are typically scheduled for 9:30 or 10:00 am, and only convene after the official handshake, which usually occurs within five minutes before the start of the conference.

In most cases, the handshake takes place mid-morning.

The Court sometimes schedules afternoon arguments in addition to or in place of the morning session, though.

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Q: What is the Supreme Court's 'conference handshake' and when does it take place?
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