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U.S. Supreme Court

Posted by on January 31, 2012

Field Trip: U.S. Supreme Court
Location: 1 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20543
Contact: 202-479-3000
Grades: 4th – High School
Admission: FREE


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About the Museum:

All visitors must pass through security screening before entering the building. During the months of March – June, visitors should anticipate longer wait times to enter the building due to larger crowds visiting the Nation’s Capital. Please tour the building quietly as working offices are adjacent to all public halls. Any visitors unable to maintain proper decorum will be asked to leave by the Supreme Court Police.

The Supreme Court does not offer guided walking tours. However, visitors are encouraged to tour the building on their own and take advantage of a variety of educational programs. A theater is located on the Ground Floor featuring The Supreme Court, a 24-minute film that examines the history of the building and features interviews with the Chief Justice and both sitting and retired Justices. Showings are continuous from 9:15 a.m. until 3:45 p.m.

The Office of the Curator creates exhibitions on the history of the Supreme Court, the Justices and the work of the Court. Two of the five exhibitions located on the Ground Floor include:

  • The Supreme Court Building: America’s Temple of Justice : For the first 145 years of the Supreme Court’s existence, the head of the third branch of government lacked a permanent home of its own. Since the completion of the building in 1935, it has become a symbol of Justice in America. Through the use of period photographs and objects relating to the early history of the Supreme Court, visitors will learn about the Court’s “temporary” homes in various government buildings, the increasing need for the Court to have a home of its own, and Chief Justice William Howard Taft’s role in the construction of the building.
  • Sandra Day O’Connor, First Woman on the Supreme Court: Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan, and served from 1981 until 2006. Beginning with her childhood growing up on her family’s ranch, the exhibition recalls her life before joining the Supreme Court, her service and accomplishments on the Court, and her continuing legacy off the Court.


Special Programs:

  • Coutroom Lectures
    Trained Docents lead 30-minute programs, which are designed to introduce visitors of all ages to the judicial functions of the Supreme Court, the history of the Building, and the architecture of the Courtroom. Courtroom Lectures are available daily when the Court is not sitting. Visitors are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. Check the Supreme Court’s session schedule to know when Courtroom Lectures will be given.
  • Oral Arguments
    Beginning the first Monday in October, the Court generally hears two one-hour arguments a day, at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., with occasional afternoon sessions scheduled as necessary. Arguments are held on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in two-week intervals through late April (with longer breaks during December and February). All oral arguments are open to the public, but seating is limited and on a first-come, first-seated basis. Before a session begins, two lines form on the plaza in front of the building. One is for those who wish to attend an entire argument, and the other, a three-minute line, is for those who wish to observe the Court in session only briefly. Seating for the first argument begins at 9:30 a.m. and seating for the three-minute line begins at 10 a.m.

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