Thursday, September 24, 2009

Slowly Yet Surely

Magnet # 44:  Supreme Court Tortoise

Material:  Wood

Purchased By:  Dad

The U.S. Supreme Court was established on this day, when, in its first session, the First United States Congress created the United States Judiciary Act of 1789.  So it's now 220 years old. Interestingly enough, it's also John Marshall's birthday - he was born in 1755.  How fitting, considering he was the longest serving Chief Justice in the court's history, and greatly increased both its power and its prestige.

My Dad bought this at the Supreme Court gift shop during a business trip to Washington D.C.  He told me that the tortoise is a symbol of the institution.  It's in reference to the fable of The Tortoise and the Hare and suggests that justice itself is slow but sure.  I'm not sure if that's always the case, but it's a nice sentiment.  In fact, the relief carved in the West Pediment at the front of the Supreme Court Building features statues of both a tortoise and a hare at opposing extremities.  You can see it either on the web or in person if you ever visit the Supreme Court.

We really are fortunate to have an institution like the Supreme Court in the United States.  In so many countries, accused persons only have one chance at a fair trial - and some don't even get that.  Here, the system of appeals guarantees at least one more trial and maybe even a series of trials that ends at the Supreme Court.  And it also means that neither the President nor Congress exclusively set our national policies.  There are few courts in the world that have the level of authority that our Supreme Court has and none of them have been around as long or have shaped the judicial landscape as it has.  We in the United States are living in times that have been greatly influenced by the Supreme Court.  While I have not agreed with all of their decisions over the years, I certainly hope they remain strong and continue to guide our Judicial Branch to the best of their ability.


  1. My son just mentioned he had to write a paper for school about John Roberts, Supreme Court Justice. Then I check your blog and you have interesting info about the Supreme Court. What timing...Thanks!!

  2. How funny! Hope the info's helpful.