4.5 star rating: Recommended 1103 Reviews

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  • Address: 1 1st Street NE, Capitol Hill
  • Hours: Open Mon - Fri 9am - 4:30pm
  • Admission: Free

The highest court in the country, the Supreme Court of the United States convenes in an imposing 1935 all-marble building. The stately Corinthian marble palace was designed by Cass Gilbert, best known for his skyscrapers including New York's Woolworth Building.

The seated figures in front of the building represent the female Contemplation of Justice and the male Guardian of Law; panels on the bronze front doors depict the history of jurisprudence. Downstairs is an exhibit on the history of the court and a striking statue of John Marshall, fourth Chief Justice.

When court is in session, try to hear an oral argument. On days when court's not in session, you can hear lectures about the Supreme Court in the courtroom (and check out its lofty architecture). Justices hear arguments at 10am Monday to Wednesday for two weeks every month from October to April. The release of orders and opinions, open to the public, takes place in May and June.

As you admire the exterior of this magnificent structure while standing in line, you may even see a case being argued on the front plaza. The experience can be quite entertaining, and makes waiting in line all the more interesting.

Practical Info

The Supreme Court is located on the east side of Capitol Hill. Queues form out front starting at 8am; choose the appropriate one depending on whether you wish to sit through the entire argument or observe the court in session for a few minutes. Plan on arriving at least 90 minutes in advance of a scheduled argument during the fall and winter; as early as 3 hours ahead in March and April.

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