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1 1st St NE · interesting places nearby
Supreme Court information
The highest court in the USA sits in a pseudo-Greek temple that you enter through 13,000lb bronze doors. Arrive early to watch arguments (periodic Monday through Wednesday October to April). You can visit the permanent exhibits and the building’s five-story, marble-and-bronze, spiral staircase year-round. On days when court is not in session you also can hear lectures (every hour on the half-hour) in the courtroom.
To attend arguments, lines form out front by the court steps starting at 8am. There are usually two queues: one for people who wish to sit through the entire argument, and another for people who want to observe the court in session for 10 to 15 minutes. Bring quarters to use for lockers; you're not allowed to take anything into the courtroom.
When the building was erected in 1935, some justices felt it was too large and didn’t properly reflect the subdued influence of the nine justices within. The neoclassical design was meant to evoke a Greek temple. The seated figures in front of the building represent the female Contemplation of Justice and the male Guardian of Law; panels on the front doors depict the history of jurisprudence. The interior grand corridor and Great Hall are no less impressive. Downstairs is an exhibit on the history of the court. Friezes within the courtroom also depict legal history and heroes, which has caused no little debate among Americans. The separation of church and state gets muddled even here.