U.S. Supreme Court Building
Address: 1 First Street Northeast, Washington DC
Architect: Cass Gilbert (he is best known for designing the Woolworth building in New York)
Height: 92 feet, or five floors
Construction began: October 13, 1932
Construction completed: 1935, It took 3 years
Cost to build: $9.74 million
Made of: Marble, mostly from Vermont, Georgia, and Alabama, but the marble for the 24 columns inside the courtroom were ordered special from Italy.
What is inside:
Basement: Maintenance, parking garage, mailroom
Ground floor: Cafeteria, gift shop, clerk’s office
2nd floor: The Great Hall, the courtroom, conference room, all of the judge’s chambers (except for one)
3rd floor: 1 judges chamber (she picked the one on the 3rd floor because it was bigger), the office of the decision reporter, legal office, law clerks offices, dining room, reading room
4th floor: library
5th floor: gym and basketball court
What is this building used for?
Inside there is only one courtroom, but it is the most powerful court in the whole country. If a case has already gone to trial somewhere else and nobody can seem to figure out what is fair, the case will go to the Supreme Court to solve the problem.
Why is it important?
When the colonists decided they wanted to become a country the leaders got together and wrote The Constitution to make sure all everyone was treated fairly. Each of the 50 states has its own law, but they all have to follow the laws of the country, too. Sometimes a law will be written in such a confusing way that nobody can understand exactly what it means, the justices who work in the Supreme Court do not make new laws, they have the job of figuring out what the law says, and if the law is fair. The Supreme Court is there to make sure that every person is guaranteed his or her constitutional rights. If a person has had a trial or a court case in another court, but the judge couldn’t make a decision, or it doesn’t seem like the decision was fair the case will finally end up in the Supreme Court so that the judges who work there can make a final decision. All of the other courts in America have to follow what the Supreme Court says. It is important that all Americans, rich or poor, have equality. The Supreme Court makes sure that some people aren’t treated worse just because they are a certain color or don’t have a lot of money. Even The President has to listen to what the Supreme Court rules.
*The Supreme Court was around for 145 years before they finally build the building it has now. It used to move around all over the place until President Taft bugged congress to give it its own building.
*Some of the judges didn’t like the new building because they were used to a small room, and the new building was too luxurious. One of the judges joked that he felt as if all of the judges should have to enter the courtroom riding on the backs of elephants
*It has its own police force, called The Supreme Court Police to protect the building and the people who live inside
*The front of the building says “Equal Justice Under The Law”*The side says, “Justice, the Guardian of Liberty”
*On November 8, 2005, a chunk of marble fell off the building onto the steps below. It weighed 172 pounds.
*On January 13, 2002, a wild fox got inside and nobody could catch it for more than a day.
*On the walls of the building are sculptures of people who have been important to law and justice throughout history.
*People are allowed to tour the building Monday-Friday, from 9:00-4:30