Along with the White House and US Capitol, the Supreme Court ranks among Washington DC’s most significant, iconic landmarks. Founded in 1789 and now housed in a neoclassical building that dates to 1935, the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, and visitors are welcome to visit (even when court is in session).
Instantly recognizable for its ornate design and grand marble steps, the Supreme Court is one of the country’s most important government buildings and a top DC highlight. Explore the ground floor and the parts of the first floor that are open to the public; watch a video about the court’s history, which is screened continuously in two ground-floor theaters; and view multiple exhibitions as well as portraits and sculptures of former justices. You can even watch the court hear arguments when it is in session.
Given its status as a major DC landmark, the Supreme Court is featured on numerous local tour itineraries, including hop-on hop-off bus tours, bike tours, and trolley tours, as well as history-themed walking tours and Capitol Hill neighborhood excursions.
Things to Know Before You Go
- All visitors to the Supreme Court must pass through a security screening process that includes metal detectors.
- While the court does not hold guided tours, you can explore highlights—including the courtroom, portraits of former justices, and more—at your leisure.
- Public amenities include restrooms, a cafeteria, and a gift shop.
- The Supreme Court is fully accessible to wheelchair users, and service dogs are welcome.
- Photography and recording devices are banned inside the building.
How to Get There
To reach the court by public transit, take the Orange, Blue, or Silver Metro lines to Capitol South; or take the Red line to Union Station. The court is also served by the 32, 34, 36, 39, 97, and A11 buses. Note that the northwest door, located to the left of the Supreme Court’s steps (if you’re facing the building), is the official public entrance.When to Get There
The Supreme Court is open to the public on weekdays from 9:30am–4:30pm; it is closed on weekends and public holidays, and its hours can sometimes vary due to special events and official engagements. The landmark is at its most crowded between the months of March and June.Attending the Supreme Court
If you’d like to watch the Supreme Court in action, visit while the justices are hearing cases. Seating in the first-floor courtroom is on a first-come, first-served basis. Before a session begins, join one of two lines: one for those who wish to attend the entire hearing, and a separate “three-minute” line for those who just want a quick peek. You’ll want to arrive early if you hope to get a seat, and it is recommended to avoid bringing infants and young children. When court is not in session, you can see the courtroom during a docent-led lecture.