The Supreme Court is Home to the Other “Highest Court of the Land”

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The Supreme Court is Home to the Other “Highest Court of the Land”


Referred to as the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court, with its nine justices, hears appeals from state courts. But it shares the title with another court—literally. 

According to Atlas Obscura, a definitive guidebook and friendly tour-guide to the world’s most wondrous places, the second highest court of the land is actually a basketball court above the Supreme Court Building. Located at the fifth floor of the building, it had been a “spare room to house journals,” says Atlas Obscura.


Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons


When the 1940s rolled around, “it was converted into a workout area for courthouse workers.” Later, it was repurposed and erected with “wooden backboards and baskets.” It’s still a workout area in all sense of the word, but now it’s home to a basketball court where clerks, off-duty police officers, and other supreme court employees can all exercise together. 


Photo Credits: Gage Skidmore via Flickr


Supreme Court Justices, such as Byron White and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist have also played on the hardcourt while other employees worked out there through different activities. For instance, Sandra Day O’Connor, now-retired associate justice of the Supreme Court, spent some time in the court by taking women-only yoga classes. 

There is also a full-service gym and weight room on the fourth floor where some of the justices lift weights while they are in the vicinity although, in any occasion, access to these rooms are only allowed when it isn’t court day. Otherwise, a Marshal’s Aide will be sent up to “kindly remind players of the rules on court days. No one wants to be on the record for disrupting court functions.” 

In case you want to have a ball at this place, you might want to take a rain check on that—probably forever—because it also isn’t open to the public.