Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Supreme Court, Architecture, and the Law

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court issued a statement that visitors to the Supreme Court Building in Washington will no longer be able to enter the building through the front entrance at the top of the stairs, although they will be able to exit the building through the front door. The statement indicates that the change has been made for security reasons.

In response, Justice Breyer issued a "Statement Concerning the Supreme Court's Front Entrance" in which Justice Ginsburg joined. Justice Breyer expresses "regret" at the closing of the Court's front entrance, and writes that the change defeats the vision that architect Cass Gilbert had for the building and the feeling he wanted to instill in visitors.

I recommend reading Justice Breyer's full statement. It reflects a sensitivity to a renowned architect's vision, and, more generally, the role that architecture plays in symbolizing what we expect from our halls of justice. The statement can be found here.

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