This Day in the Law
May 4

United States Supreme Court Building Made a National Historic Landmark (1987)

On May 4, 1987, the United States Supreme Court Building was made a National Historic Landmark by the United States Government. The Supreme Court has convened in the current Court Building since 1935.

Before its move to Washington, D.C., the United States Supreme Court met in the Merchants Exchange Building in New York City, and Independence Hall in Philadelphia. When the federal government moved to Washington, the court convened in a small basement room in the Capitol Building. Eventually, with the expansion of Congress, the Supreme Court moved to more spacious rooms, but still remained in the Capitol Building.

In 1929, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Howard Taft argued successfully that the Court should have its own headquarters, in order to display its status as a separate branch of the government. Construction began on the Supreme Court Building in 1932, and it was finished in 1935.

May 4, 1987, the United States Government declared the Supreme Court Building a National Historic Landmark. The Secretary of the Interior is in charge of designating National Historic Landmarks. In order to become a National Historic Landmark, a site must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Sites where events of national historical significance occurred;
- Places where prominent persons lived or worked;
- Icons of ideals that shaped the nation;
- Outstanding examples of design or construction;
- Places characterizing a way of life; or
- Archeological sites able to yield information.
All National Historic Landmarks are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Upon last check there are 2,442 Historic Landmarks in the United States and its territories.