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I remember as a young lawyer being able to walk pretty much anywhere in the Stearns County Courthouse. There were no pass cards or need for bailiffs to walk you around. Sometimes, the judges were to busy too talk to anyone, but it was a matter of courtesy and not security.

A couple of years later, the doors started to be locked. Slowly, the judges got locked away and protected form the public. Clearly, the building bombings and terrorist actions need to be dealt with, but has aided justice to have these extra lawyers? It has especially concerned me that a judge’s day of criminal appearances and horrible human stories has tainted the way judges look at the world. It’s like being trapped with an ongoing marathon of Cops and Jersey Shores. How could you not be changed?

It was sad to hear about the US Supreme Court now will not let the public walk through the front doors. The only way in is the two side doors. Again, the issue is security. But, how sad is it that now we can’t even walk into the building of our government? I have been out to Washington, DC on a number of trips, sometimes for work, and other times as a tourist. Each trip, I have taken the time to look around. A number of years ago, I remember how it was to walk up to the capitol, the congressional buildings, and the Supreme Court. It made you feel like a child no matter the age you did it.

It’s horrible to lose this history lesson for all of us. Hopefully, those worried about security will keep this in mind. As the Justice Breyer dissent pointed out:

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.”

The public is why we have these buildings. We need to make sure that both sides of the locked door understand that.


  1. Gravatar for Gerry McGill

    I went to law school in Washington, D.C and on several occasions walked in through the front door and listened to cases being argued. I never had to go through a metal detector. This was 1969-1971 which were turbulent times in our nation's capitol. At least I thought so then. I am saddened by how things have changed. I may be getting old, but I long for the days when we could disagree without being disagreeable.

  2. Yes, it really is sad to see the way things have changed. I am very concerned about it will do to our sense of history. You must have seen some interesting stuff. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment

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