This place still matters

I biked to the U.S. Supreme Court on April 28 to observe the crowd outside. The justices had just heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a case to decide if state bans on same-sex marriage violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Whatever the court decides, it will be a landmark ruling.

The Supreme Court building, completed in 1935, is a fine Neoclassical building. However, this DC site is important not because of its architecture, but because of the important decisions made inside.

In this building, a panel of men and women prohibited school segregation, advanced fair housing law, ended racial segregation in transportation, legalized interracial marriage, protected gay relationships, protected journalists’ rights to embarrass the government, protected symbolic speech, and much more.

When so much news focuses on the trivial and fleeting, the Supreme Court makes decisions that last decades.  These decisions have widespread consequences and can transform people’s lives for the better.  When I took the photo above, it struck me that many sites in Washington are more than just architecture: they are transcendental monuments to the promise of America, the promise that even the weak and unpopular are entitled to justice under the rule of law.

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