Supreme Court Closes Front Doors To Visitors In The Name of Security

The Supreme Court justices have voted to end one of the most important symbols of American justice: the open doors of justice at the Supreme Court building. Visitors have always entered through the massive doors which represented the access of citizens to our legal system. In yet another case of security trumping all other considerations, the justices voted to close the doors to citizens (and to use new doors located in a more secure location).

Only Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg objected to the move and issued a statement condemning the decision. In a disappointing move, Justices Stevens and Sotomayor decided not to join their liberal colleagues to speaking out against the move. There is less surprise with justices who routinely yield to security demands in cases, but only these two justices on the left of the Court spoke out to oppose the move.

Breyer wrote

“While I recognize the reasons for this change, on balance I do not believe they justify it. I think the change is unfortunate, and I write in the hope that the public will one day in the future be able to enter the Court’s Great Hall after passing under the famous words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ . . . Writers and artists regularly use the steps to represent the ideal that anyone in this country may obtain meaningful justice through application to this Court. . . . I thus remain hopeful that, sometime in the future, technological advances, a Congressional appropriation, or the dissipation of the current security risks will enable us to restore the Supreme Court’s main entrance as a symbol of dignified openness and meaningful access to equal justice under law.”

The design of Cass Gilbert emphasized the entrance as the central visual element. It will now become largely decorative. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger once ordered the doors shut in a ridiculous over-reaction to a protest outside — and received overwhelming criticism for the act. Now, citizens will be barred entirely from entering through the doors. For civil libertarians the doors now represent a symbol of a different kind — showing how even the Supreme Court is compromising important traditions to accommodate security demands. There is little evidence of balancing in such decisions and only two justices were willing to fight to preserve a defining element of this iconic structure.

For the story, click here.

32 thoughts on “Supreme Court Closes Front Doors To Visitors In The Name of Security”

  1. Yep. Proof and Faith are mutually exclusive. We should never confuse the two. Which is why laws based on a work, which are accepted in one society, will not be accepted in another society which bases its laws on a different work.

    This means shrinking global isolation in our world makes for a very interesting, and sometimes dangerous, time to live in.

  2. Buckeye:

    “Thanks for illustrating my observation about bible quotes (among others).”


    I suppose then you agree with me that if a work can be used to prove anything, it, in fact, proves nothing.

  3. Tootie and mespo

    Thanks for illustrating my observation about bible quotes (among others).

  4. Tootie:

    “Our government is thoroughly corrupt.”


    Then you as the self-proclaimed virtuous should leave.

    “He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

    ~Matt. 16:23

  5. mespo

    I refer to all the government offices, not just the court. This is more a question of science: cause and effect. There is a REASON why government officials are under siege and it doesn’t have to do with them being innocent people. Our government is thoroughly corrupt.

    That said, according to the bible:

    Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34

    We are no longer an exalted nation. This is quite clear. And if the government is being attacked, the assumption is that it is no longer exalted. And:

    When the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch. Matthew 15:14

    We are clearly falling into the ditch of totalitarianism and socialist slavery. Many nations fell in that ditch last century. The American people beg for slavery (democrats) and totalitarianism (democrats and republicans) and the leaders give it to them.

    These things have happen because of moral corruption from the highest to the lowest among us as the Proverbs verbs indicates.

    The Children of Israel (including their leaders) went into slavery because of corporate sin. This happens to all wicked nations.

  6. Tootie:

    “If our leaders behaved they would not have to worry so much.”


    Implicit in your statement is the notion that our leaders bring about this threat of violence upon themselves through their behavior. Maybe you could explain –in that Christian way you do– exactly what you mean?

  7. I suppose when the front door is closed then that leaves only the rear open. Oh, maybe they are used to tongue in cheek and that’s the real reason that Bowers v Hardwick was upheld. This was a good case for Oral Arguments.

    If memory serves me correctly Judge Powell said eventually that he was incorrect and should have swung the other way. But he stuck it to them for sticking it.

  8. The doors to justice closed when Bush stacked the Court with people who would rather lie than follow the law. The closing of the doors is only the punctuation to what happend when Roberts and Alito flipped the finger at the Senate.

  9. FFLEO

    True. His name was in response to your satiric

    “Them cave-dwellin’ furin terrists ov’ yunner sumwers”

    Who WERE the impetus for TSA after 4 airliners killed over 3,000 people on US soil.

    If you are suggesting we didn’t need the increased security measures on all transportation after 9/11, I am sorry, but I disagree. Though we don’t now see security guards toting automatic weapons in the airports as I did when flying 1 month after 9/11. (Flying was as much an act of defiance as anything else for me).

    Mr. Turley seems to be indicating that he would prefer leaving the front doors open no matter what the security situation. Perhaps there is sufficient security inside. If so, there would be no reason to close those doors. I’ve never been there, and I expect he has.

    If not, however, I would prefer to protect the justices rather than protect a symbol. I guess I’m just too picky about what I think are real battles. Foolish me.

  10. Why now? Why not 8 years ago, or 6, or last year? What has happened … it must be very, very big and scary.

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