The highest court in the land. The Supreme Court is not just concerned with case law. Unlike many other high courts, the Supreme Court rules on the Constitution, the fundamental basis of US law. It means it gets to define the law in broad cases, like abortion and gay marriage, areas typically left to politicians in other countries.
The Supreme Court building is an austere neoclassical design with a grand portico in keeping with the US Capitol Building it sits behind. It used to be incorporated into the US Capitol Building, but moved to its own building in 1935.
As you approach the U.S Supreme Court Building, look up. You will see near the top of the building a row of relief sculptures of the great law givers of our world's history. Each one of them is generally facing toward the one in the middle who is facing forward. This one in the center is Moses and he is holding the Ten Commandments! Today, the body which meets in this building and has ultimate jurisdiction over the most momentous cases before our judicial system has decided that it is against the law to display those same Ten Commandments in any government-owned location but the people who founded this country and made it so great appropriately regarded the Ten Commandments as the centerpiece of the entire legal system of this nation.
In response to the "comment" of VT member, MrWeisberg, who is apparently an American liberal who refuses to accept the Judeo-Christian heritage and who also castigated me for mis-identifying the man in the center, the following is a verbatim quote from http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/butowsky2/constitution9.htm:
On the east front of the building is a sculpture group by Herman A. McNeil and the marble figures represent great lawgivers, Moses, Confucius, and Solon, flanked by symbolic groups representing Means of Enforcing the Law, Tempering Justice with Mercy, Carrying on of Civilization and Settlement of Disputes Between States. The Architrave bears the legend: "Justice the Guardian of Liberty."
As you enter the Supreme Court courtroom, the huge oak doors through which you enter also have the Ten Commandments engraved on the lower portion of each door.
As you sit inside the courtroom, you can see on the wall, right above where the Supreme Court justices sit, a display of the Ten Commandments.
A federal court; the highest body in the Judicial Branch. The Supreme Court is composed of a chief justice and eight associate justices, all of whom are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. They serve on the Court as long as they choose, subject only to impeachment.
Each state also has a Supreme Court; which are Courts of Appeals, primarily hearing cases that have already been tried. The Federal Supreme Court ('THE' Supreme Court) has the final word on interpretation of all laws and of the Constitution. Supreme Court decisions have a significant impact on public policy, and are often extremely controversial.
The Supreme Court is "the highest law of the land" in the United States. The Courts are the branch of government which interpret the laws passed by by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President and determine whether the laws are valid or invalid. The high Court consists of 9 Justices, who hear only those cases which are selected by the Court as presenting an issue that the lower courts are divided upon, or one that the Court deems of great Constitutional importance. Very few cases, of those sent to this Court are actually heard by the Court. The building itself is typical DC architecture, but the courtroom is the most solemn and imposing in the nation.
The US Supreme Court is an awesome institution and, like many great things, has a simple basis. Justices are appointed by the President but must be confirmed by the Senate. Qualifications for this high office: none. In the constitution, there is no age limit, no citizenship requirement, no professional or educational requirement. Amazing to me. Also, once appointed the Justice may serve for life, the only limitation on the time of service is the vague “during good behavior,” which is not defined.
I was amazed to learn that prior to 1935, the court had sat in various locations with no permanent home. The current building was completed that year after former President William Howard Taft persuaded Congress to authorize construction of a permanent home.
The building seems older I think because it is of classic Corinthian style which harmonizes it with nearby Congressional buildings. It has some lovely and interesting features, not the least of which is the inscription on the front façade of the motto: “Equal Justice Under Law” and the rear façade’s “Justice, the Guardian of Liberty.” The front steps are bracketed by two impressive statues, a femJusale figure, “Contemplation of Justice,” on the left and a male figure, “Authority of Law,” on the right. Inside are a number of nice displays and statues and twin 5 story cantilevered spiral staircases.
I did not know that the court, while in session, is open to the public. At these times there are two lines for the public. One line allows seating on a first come, first served basis and is limited to about 150 people. The other line is called the “3 minute line” and allows visitors to be seated on the back row for 3 minutes. While this limits public access, it does permit the public to see its highest court at work. When the court is not in session, there are lectures on the court, its history and its workings in the courtroom. These are every hour on the half hour and last about 30 minutes. Ours was well worth it. Of course, admission is free.
The Supreme Court did not get a permanent home in Washington DC until 1935. It had been housed in the New York Merchant's Exchange Building, Philadelphia's Independence Hall, the basement of the Capitol building, the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol, and the Old Senate Chamber upstairs in the Capitol.
The Supreme Court building faces the Capitol and is home to the offices of the nine US Supreme Court Justices, as well as the court itself. The facade says "Equal Justice Under Law"In front of the building are two small reflecting pools, sculptures of "Contemplation of Justice" and "Authority of Law" and two flagpoles.
In this formidable Greek style temple, the nine Supreme Court Justices make final their interpretations of the Constitution in the laws of the land.
When we visited the Building there was a silent demonstration taking place outside (see picture # 4).
We climbed the steps and entered the hall after a checking of our body and bags. The lines were long, but bearable. The Hall had, along its two walls, sculptures of all its Chief Justices, who had served the Court. We observed a few courts and made an exit.
This neoclassical building looks far older than it really is. The Supreme Court met in odd rooms in the Capitol (you'll see one if you tour the Capitol) until the early '30s, when this structure was completed. Tours start at 9am when the court is not in session. After the usual security checks, a set number of visitors will be ushered into the actual court chambers. A guide will discuss the workings of the court, plus the symbolism of the sculptures and friezes above. The decorations are of lawgivers throughout time: Confucious, Hammurabi, Mohammed, and Moses, among others.
Downstairs there are exhibits, a short film, and portraits of past justices. Be sure to take a gander before the court opens, or afterwards at the sculptured doors at the entrance. Each door is bronze, weighs 6.5 TONS, and is decorated with famous law scenes. When the court is open for sessions or tours, these giant works of art slide into pockets in the sides and are not visible. Pamphlets describing the court building and workings are given out free of charge. The closest Metro stop is Capitol South.
In this formidable Greek-style temple, the nine Supreme Court Justices make final their interpretations of the Constitution and the laws of the land. In addition to viewing the building, you can see a film, hear a lecture or, if you are exceptionally lucky, sit in on arguments when the Court is in session. Choose a three-minute quick view or come for an all-day visit, but be in line by 8:30a for passes. Check the Washington Post for descriptions of current cases and go on Mondays to hear the decisions the court hands down. Admission is free.
The building is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is closed Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays.
Cass Gilbert designed this imposing marble building, which was built in 1935. Public tours are available, although I visited on a weekend and there was nothing going on.
On the doors is a giant bronze frieze, depicting the famous law-givers of history. In front of the building are statues representing the Contemplation of Justice and the Guardian of the Law.
Of course, like many places we wanted to visit on this particular day, it was closed. The building is open Mon-Fri 9-4:30 and closed on Federal holidays, inclement weather and occasionally for cleaning. It's incredibly beautiful on the outside, though.
Supreme Court of the United States is highest court in the land or the court of last resort. It's nine justices Roberts (chief), Stevens, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter (pronounced SEW-ter), Thomas, Ginsberg, Breyer, and Alito are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for a lifetime appointment assuming "good behaviour". The Supreme Court only hears cases that have real Constitutional importance. Because of that, on any given day, you will find protesters for this cause or that picketing in front of the court building. The interesting thing is, the words Equal Justice Under Law is engraved above the main door. This phrase came from Cass Gilbert, the architect who designed and built the court building. Construction cost $9 million and that one third of this amount was used for the marble. The columns were made of Italian marble brought from Montarrenti. Congress approved the building in 1929 and that it was finished in 1935.
Although I had seen the model of the United States Supreme Court building I made quite common mistake of many visitors. I didn't go East to see eastern front of the building. Instead I took a break, sat on a bench in the court grounds and took a picture of pretty grass-like plants.
The main, rectangular and longitudinal court edifice built in classical style has two facades the western and eastern. Go East along long court wall to see the eastern facade.
The part of the United States Supreme Court building which is open for visitors reminds a picture and sculpture gallery. On the ground floor there is a small museum or better to say exposition on history of the Court, its heroes and architecture of the building.
Its most dignified part is dedicated to John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States for over three decades (1801 - 1835). I saw his seated statue and I got to know that he lived in Richmond, Virginia, the city of many famous Americans I had visited a few days earlier and liked a lot. His "old gold" pocket watch made in England was displayed among other his belongings.
I also got to know that he was the principal founder of American constitutional law and the power of judicial review. In a series of historic decisions, he established the judiciary as an independent and influential branch of the government equal to Congress and the Presidency. Perhaps the most significant of these cases was that of Marbury v. Madison, in which the principle of judicial review was stated by Marshall: "A legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law."
During Marshall's times the most permanent home for the Supreme Court was the Capitol building. Wasn't it a too-cozy arrangement for a government that prided itself on separation of powers?
I walked to the east end of the marble Great Hall of United States Supreme Court to enter the Court Chamber. I saw a large dignified room with marble columns on both sides and in front, marble walls and floor and coffered ceiling. A school group sat on the benches while their guide was talking some interesting stories. As I understood well in the beginning some people criticized and complained that the Supreme Court building was bombastically pretentious for old boys (the Justicies are traditionally senior citizens) and suggested the Justices ought to enter the courtroom riding on elephants :-). I would like to see it :-).
Well, I got to know that a few kinds of marble were used in the Court Chamber including Old Convent Quarry Siena marble from Liguria, Italy (24 columns), Ivory Vein marble from Alicante, Spain ( walls and friezes), Italian and African marble (floor borders). The raised Bench behind which the Justices sit during sessions, and other furniture in the Courtroom are mahogany.
Models of both contemporary and old Court Chamber are displayed on the exposition set up on the ground floor. The smaller Old Court Chamber, located in U.S. Capitol, was used from 1819 to 1860.
I entered the United States Supreme Court building through the opened bronze doors of the west front and I didn't notice the doors ornamented with panels depicting historic scenes in the development of law. Each door weighs six and a half tone!
As usual entering any Federal building I had to go through hand-check of bags and pass through metal detectors. I entered long marble hall at least 3 times higher than my own apartment. This main corridor is called the Great Hall. Double rows of monolithic marble columns at each side rise to a coffered ceiling which has amazed me most.
There are busts of all former Chief Justicies put on pedestals in niches along the side walls. At first I was surprised that there were only 16 Chief Justices since 1789 till 2005 that is during 216 years! Now, the 17th is at the office. It means that average Chief Justice served 13 and a half years. Well, the U.S. Constitution states that all justices of the Court "shall hold their offices during good behavior," meaning that appointments are for life: they end only when a justice chooses to retire, dies, or is impeached and convicted by the Congress.
Chief Justice of the United States (often incorrectly called "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court") is the head of the judicial branch of the government of the United States, and presides over the Supreme Court of the United States. The highest judicial officer in the country, the Chief Justice leads the business of the Supreme Court, administers the oath of office at presidential inaugurations, and presides over the Senate during impeachment trials of the President of the United States.
He (no women as for now) is nominated by the President and confirmed to sit on the Court by the U.S. Senate. The salary of the Chief Justice is set by Congress. It is $203,000 per annum as of 2005. Only? :-) Well, I think he doesn't pay any taxes as he may adjudicate tax cases, right?