Beliefnet
Lynn v. Sekulow

Barry,

 

I understand the reasoning behind it.  And, regrettably, it’s become a sign of the times.  But, I can’t help but think that as a nation founded on the rule of law – and a legal system open to the public – that it is unfortunate that the nation’s highest court will no longer use its front doors as an entryway to the Court.

 

The Supreme Court issued a brief statement notifying the media, attorneys and the public that, beginning today, no one will be permitted to use the front doors at the top of the 44 marble steps to enter the Court’s Great Hall. (The public and others will be able to continue to use the front doors to exit the Court, but no longer to enter.)

 

Instead, the Court has opened a ground-floor, side entrance for the public to use that “provides a secure, reinforced area to screen for weapons, explosives, and chemical and biological hazards.”

 

In an unusual move, Justice Breyer – joined by Justice Ginsburg – issued a statement expressing concern about eliminating the traditional entrance.

Calling the move “unfortunate” and “dispiriting,” Justice Breyer noted that the front entrance accomplished exactly what the building’s architect, Cass Gilbert, envisioned:  “To many members of the public, this Court’s main entrance and front steps are not only a means to, but also a metaphor for, access to the Court itself,” Justice Breyer wrote.

 

I have had the privilege of presenting oral arguments before the Supreme Court on more than a dozen occasions now.  And, each time I walk up those marble steps to argue a case at the high court – and enter through the big bronze doors passing under the famous words “Equal Justice Under Law” – I am inspired and marvel at the ultimate symbol of justice for America’s legal system.

 

Justice Breyer ended his statement with the hope that one day, the main entrance will be re-opened:

 

“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.”

 

Yes, terrorism and security threats are very real issues – and very real concerns – at the Supreme Court.  And I certainly support the security measures implemented to make the Court as safe as possible.  But it’s sad to see the main entrance to the high court now relegated to merely an ‘exit.’

 

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