The Supreme Court Institute moot courtroom

Brent Futrell, Georgetown University Law Center

The Supreme Court Institute Courtroom is designed to evoke the interior of the courtroom used by the Supreme Court of the United States. It is not an exact replica, but it does provide advocates the opportunity for a “dress rehearsal” in an environment strongly resembling the actual Supreme Court chamber.

One of the most unusual aspects of arguing before the highest Court is the intimate nature of the surroundings. Advocates stand in close proximity to the Justices and the room itself seems small in comparison to the impressive façade of the building.  The SCI courtroom recreates that atmosphere and is intended to enhance the benefits derived from practicing an oral argument in a moot court setting.

The first thing that one might notice upon entering the room is that the carpet pattern is nearly identical to that on the floor of the Court. The finish of wood and leather on the furniture is also strikingly similar. Raised Doric columns line the walls in a manner reminiscent of the Court’s imposing Ionic marble columns. Round light fixtures suggest the medallions high in the Court’s ceiling. Molded ellipses on the face of the bench are reminiscent of a rectangular pattern on the mahogany at the Court. Red curtains and a clock hang behind the bench.

There are fewer seats for audience members than in the Supreme Court because the room is smaller in scale. Importantly, the distance from the advocate’s lectern to the winged bench and the position of argument tables are the same as in the Court. The courtroom’s design was modified in other ways in order to accommodate technology and uses such as trial practice and student moot court competitions. The jury box reminds one of the Justices’ guest seating area.  Throughout the creative design and construction of this moot courtroom, Georgetown received wonderful cooperation from the U.S. Supreme Court staff. The result is a practice arena that beautifully calls to mind the surroundings where the Supreme Court Justices preside.

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