28 U.S. Code § 452 - Courts always open; powers unrestricted by expiration of sessions

All courts of the United States shall be deemed always open for the purpose of filing proper papers, issuing and returning process, and making motions and orders.
The continued existence or expiration of a session of a court in no way affects the power of the court to do any act or take any proceeding.


(June 25, 1948, ch. 646, 62 Stat. 907; Pub. L. 88–139, § 2,Oct. 16, 1963, 77 Stat. 248.)
Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §§ 13 and 302 (Mar. 3, 1911, ch. 231, §§ 9, 189,36 Stat. 1088, 1143; Mar. 2, 1929, ch. 488, § 1,45 Stat. 1475).
Sections 13 and 302 of title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., related only to district courts and the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, and this section has been written to cover all other courts of the United States.
Other provisions of said section 302 of title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., are incorporated in sections 214, 456, and 604 of this title.
The phrase “always open” means “never closed” and signifies the time when a court can exercise its functions. With respect to matters enumerated by statute or rule as to which the court is “always open,” there is no time when the court is without power to act. (Ex parte Branch, 63 Ala. 383, 387.)
Section 13 of title 28, U.S.C., 1940 ed., provided that “The district courts, as courts of admiralty and as courts of equity, shall be deemed always open * * *” for enumerated purposes, and that the judge “at chambers or in the clerk’s office, and in vacation as well as in term,” may make orders and issue process. The revised section omits all reference to the nature of the action or proceeding and enumeration of the acts which may be performed by the court. This is in accord with Rules 45(c) and 56 of the new Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure which contain similar provisions with respect to criminal procedure both in the courts of appeals and in the district courts.
Rules 6(c) and 77(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure contain provisions similar to the second and first paragraphs, respectively, of this section with respect to civil actions in district courts.

1963—Pub. L. 88–139substituted “expiration of sessions” for “terms” in section catchline, and “session” for “term” in text.

The table below lists the classification updates, since Jan. 3, 2012, for this section. Updates to a broader range of sections may be found at the update page for containing chapter, title, etc.

The most recent Classification Table update that we have noticed was Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An empty table indicates that we see no relevant changes listed in the classification tables. If you suspect that our system may be missing something, please double-check with the Office of the Law Revision Counsel.

28 USCDescription of ChangeSession YearPublic LawStatutes at Large


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