October 14, 2023

Marble slab smashes into the Supreme Court building, narrowly avoiding catastrophe

Several U.S. Supreme Court personnel said a 2-foot-long marble fragment crashed in an indoor courtyard used by the justices and their assistants last year, narrowly avoiding a major incident.

The event occurred in the spring of 2022 when the court was grappling with death threats and other security problems as the justices were finishing their momentous ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. The court has yet to acknowledge the suspicious timing of the event, as the New York Post reported.

Employees stated that Justice Elena Kagan and her law clerks were in the courtyard prior to the incident, but no one was hurt when the marble fell, staffers asserted.

A Similar Incident

They stated the piece was substantial enough to have potentially caused grave injury to someone and was quite a bit larger than the 2005 basketball-sized rock that fell near the court's front entrance.

Polycor, the owner of the quarry that provided the rock, says that the Georgia marble used in the court's four inner courtyards weights roughly 170 pounds per cubic foot.

Court protocol prohibits all but a few staff from speaking to reporters on the record, so the employees talked anonymously to the Associated Press.

Supreme Court spokesman Patricia McCabe would not confirm or deny the event. The public and media who cover the court were barred from entering at the time due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The four courtyards have fountains and columns that match the building's exterior. On nice days, staff can work or eat at tables located outdoors.

Upgrades to the Court

Budget proposals to Congress suggest the courtyards are currently blocked off for $35 million renovation project. The court had already planned the work before the marble fell, and work on the renovations reportedly takes place largely at night after workers leave.

On a Monday morning in November 2005, marble molding fell from the court entry front onto the steps surrounding visitors. Three years later, Chief Justice John Roberts joked about the 2005 incident at Drake University's law school.

“Now, there were a lot of reasons that we had to renovate the building, including the fact that we were literally losing our marbles,” Roberts said, as quoted in a university news release.

“The occasional chunk of marble would dislodge and fall from above, threatening to shorten life tenure," he mused.

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