With the addition of new Justice Elena Kagan, the United States Supreme Court will again be the center of attention and speculation. There are now three women on the court, and while that is not equal to their population in the country, it is an improvement. The last two appointed, Kagan and Sotomayor, are both from New York, and both attended Princeton, where Woodrow Wilson was president.
The history of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court was created in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution in 1789. The first opinion was handed down in 1792. By now, about 10,000 petitions are filed with the Court in the course of a term, in addition to about 1,200 applications acted on by a single justice.
The Supreme Court did not have a permanent home building for many years. The Court first assembled in the Merchants Exchange Building in New York City. The court was in Independence Hall, and later City Hall from 1790 to 1800 when the national capital was in Philadelphia. In 1800 the court moved to the new capital, Washington, D.C. but there was no provision for a building. The Court met in the Capitol Building, again moving from place to place. The court was briefly located a private house after the British set fire to the Capitol during the War of 1812. From 1819 to 1935 the court again used a chamber in the Capitol.
The present Supreme Court Building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert, built in 1935, and remarkably came in under budget. The classical style was chosen to fit in with nearby buildings, and to be suitably impressive for the importance of the Court. The building materials include marble from foreign and domestic quarries, including Vermont, Alabama and Georgia. The wood is American white oak. The building was in 2009, including updating security and changing the entrance to be used.
Visiting the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The four story building is located at One First Street Northeast, Washington, DC. It is closed Saturdays, Sundays, and federal legal holidays.
When the court is in session, visitors are seated in the gallery on a first come, first served basis. While the court is in session, there are two lines for admission. The oral argument line is to attend the 10 a.m. and 11 a.m arguments. For the visitors and tourists who just want to observe and say they were there, there is a line for them to spend just 3 minutes observing the court. There is a cafeteria open to the public except when the staff of the court is having their lunch.
Visitors must pass through two metal detectors and place most belongings in coin-operated lockers. A policy of absolute silence, no photography, and proper decorum is strictly enforced during the arguments. All present in the courtroom should rise when the justices enter the courtroom.
There are educational programs and exhibits which are changed from time to time. A film on the Supreme Court is shown in the theater. Courtroom lectures are held every hour on the half-hour, on days that the Court is not sitting, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and concluding at 3:30 p.m.
Source: United States Supreme Court website