The Supreme Court Building was designed by Cass Gilbert and built from 1931 to 1935. The Court first sat in the building on Monday, October 7, 1935. The building, majestic in size and rich in ornamentation, serves as both home to the Court and the manifest symbol of its importance as a coequal, independent branch of government. Architectural information describing many of the building's sculptural elements may be obtained from the Visitor Desk on the ground floor.
Although the Supreme Court does not offer guided walking tours, visitors are encouraged to tour the building on their own and take advantage of a variety of educational programs including Courtroom Lectures, a visitors’ film, and court-related exhibitions.
The Courtroom is located on the First Floor. Court sessions are open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Please refer to the Oral Argument page for additional information on attending a court session.
In addition to the Courtroom, portions of the First and Ground Floors are open to the public. Highlights include the John Marshall Statue, portraits and busts of Justices, and two self-supporting marble spiral staircases. For additional information on visiting the Court, please refer to the Visitor’s Guide to the Supreme Court.
Trained docents lead these 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 Monday through Friday and are free of charge. A line forms in the Great Hall on the First Floor before each lecture, and visitors are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. It is advisable to join the line in the Great Hall at least 15 minutes prior to the lecture’s start time.
On days that the Court is not in session, lectures are generally scheduled every hour on the half-hour beginning at 9:30 a.m. with a final lecture at 3:30 p.m. When the Court is in session, Courtroom Lectures are available only after Court adjourns for the day.
Note: Please be advised that there will be no Courtroom Lectures from Monday, August 22 through Friday, September 2 due to the closure of the Courtroom for maintenance and annual cleaning. When activity permits, the doors to the Courtroom will be open to allow visitors to view the room. The building will remain open to the public, and visitors may view the visitors’ film and exhibitions or visit the cafeteria and gift shop.
For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the 30-day rolling calendar below. Click on a day to view available lectures. Because lectures take place in the Courtroom, they are subject to cancellation due to the business of the Court.
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. Open captioning is provided at each showing.
The Office of the Curator creates exhibitions on the history of the Supreme Court, the Justices and the work of the Court.
All exhibitions are located on the Ground Floor.