United States Supreme Court

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court was first convened in 1790. The first set of justices, which numbered only three, joined the rest of the government in New York, where the temporary capital was. When the capital moved down to Philadelphia in 1791, the members of the Supreme Court followed. However, despite their trips (required by Congress) all over the country to hold court in what justices termed the “frontier,” the first three years of its existence the Court was not extremely busy. Because the new country was so young, it took some time before appeals trickled up from the lower courts.

After 1800, when the government made its permanent home in D.C., the Court moved into the Capitol Building as soon as it was completed.Until then, the Court met wherever they could find a place. For a century, the Court was lodged in the Capitol Building. However, Chief Justice Taft, former President, lobbied to have the present house of the Court built. The building’s elegant design makes visitors think of classical Roman and Greece architecture. Court was held in the new building beginning in 1935.

Interesting Facts

  • The architect, Cass Gilbert, said he wanted to design a building that reflected the solemnity and importance of the Court to the American people.
  • The marble used to construct the building cost three million dollars.
  • The marble came from places as varied as Vermont, Georgia, Alabama, Spain, Italy and Africa.
  • Six justices were appointed to serve the first Court, all of whom had had an integral part in crafting the Constitution.
  • John Jay, the first Justice, was burned in effigy across the land after negotiating what some thought was a weak treaty with the British.

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