Reflecting on the inglorious treatment of the United States Supreme Court for 146 years

Chief Justice Roberts made some brief remarks as he left the Senate Chamber for the final time and paid a visit to the Old Senate Chamber on his way out.

It is kind of amazing that for 146 years, the Supreme Court had no formal home of its.

Though it was authorized by Article III of the Constitution, put into operation by the Judiciary Act of 1789, had its full membership appointed on September 26, 1789 and met for the first time on February 1, 1790 in New York City.

Of course, none of the government had a permanent home from March 4, 1789 when the Congress initially convened under the Constitution until the summer and fall of 1800, when the government packed up from Philadelphia and moved to Washington, D.C.

From 1800 to 1810, the Supreme Court met first in Independence Hall and then in the Old City Hall. When the first Senate Chamber was split into two levels in 1810, the Senate stayed in the upper half and the Supreme Court moved into the lower half, now known as the Old Supreme Court Chamber. When the Senate’s modern Chamber was completed in 1860, the Senate moved there and the Supreme Court moved upstairs to what is now called the Old Senate Chamber. That would be their home for 75 years until October 1935.

Then President William Howard Taft had called for a Supreme Court Building as early as 1912. As Chief Justice he ramped up his efforts and finally convinced Congress to cough up the money. Sadly, Taft did not live to see its completion.

The Supreme Court completed the October 1934 term in March of 1935 in the Old Senate Chamber. They began the October 1935 term in their modern courtroom in their new building.

It took fully 146 years for the United States Supreme Court to finally get its own building after being squirreled away in the United States Capitol for most of its existence.

We are coming up on 85 years in October 2020 that the Supreme Court has held court in its own building.

Just thought this was an interesting reflection to make.

we use to keep our Supreme Court in the maintenance shed mind you it was a very nice maintenance shed.

I took a peek on Wikipedia. :smile:

That may be a step above the United States keeping our Supreme Court in the basement (Old Supreme Court Chamber) for 50 years. :smile:


There is the restored Old Supreme Court Chamber.

That is the Old Senate Chamber as it appear during the Supreme Court’s residence. It has since been restored to appear as it did when the Senate occupied it.

This photo was taken illicitly in 1932 and shows the Supreme Court in its final years in the Old Senate Chamber.

This photo was taken illicitly in 1937 and shows th Supreme Court in its current courtroom.

I like the curtains.

One of my 1L professors now sits on the bench of CAAF, and me and a bunch of classmates went to his first case. They’ve got an amazingly dramatic curtain thing as their entrance.

And a remarkable building it is. The spiral staircase is a wonder in itself.

I will say that once they did finally get a building, they got a nice one. :smile:

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