Washington, D.C. – In a heart-stopping incident that went unacknowledged by the Supreme Court, a massive piece of marble, measuring at least 2 feet in length, crashed to the ground in an interior courtyard last year, narrowly avoiding a catastrophic accident. Several court employees, who shared the shocking details, revealed that the incident occurred during the tense spring of 2022 when the court was already grappling with death threats and heightened security concerns. The justices were also finalizing their groundbreaking decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
According to insiders, Justice Elena Kagan and her law clerks had been in the courtyard earlier that day. Fortunately, no one was injured when the marble fell, although it was large enough to cause serious harm. In fact, it dwarfed the basketball-sized chunk that fell near the court’s front entrance back in 2005.
The weight of the fallen marble remains unknown, but Polycor, the quarry that supplied the marble for the court’s four interior courtyards, states that Georgia marble weighs approximately 170 pounds per cubic foot.
The court employees, who spoke anonymously to The Associated Press due to court policy, shared their accounts of the incident. Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe declined to provide any details or confirm the incident, citing the closure of the building to the public and media during the pandemic.
Each of the four courtyards features fountains and columns resembling those found outside the building, providing a serene space for employees to enjoy their lunch or work on pleasant days. However, the courtyards are currently closed for restoration work, which is estimated to cost nearly $35 million, according to budget requests made to Congress. The court had planned these renovations prior to the marble incident, with most of the work taking place in the evenings after court workers have left for the day.
In addition to restoring the marble, the ongoing restoration project includes updates to the fountains, plumbing, and electrical systems, all of which date back to the court’s opening in 1935.
This is not the first time the Supreme Court has faced issues with falling marble. In November 2005, a piece of marble molding fell from the facade above the entrance, landing near visitors waiting to enter the building on a Monday morning. Luckily, no one was injured during that incident either.
Chief Justice John Roberts made light of the 2005 incident during a speech at Drake University’s law school three years later. At the time, the Supreme Court building was undergoing an extensive renovation, costing approximately $120 million and lasting until 2011.
“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 humorously remarked, as quoted in a university news release. “The occasional chunk of marble would dislodge and fall from above, threatening to shorten life tenure.”
As the Supreme Court remains tight-lipped about the recent marble incident, concerns are mounting regarding the safety of the building and the well-being of those who work within its walls. The court’s decision to keep the incident under wraps raises questions about transparency and accountability, particularly given the court’s role as the highest judicial authority in the land.
While the restoration work continues, it is hoped that the necessary measures will be taken to ensure the safety of the Supreme Court justices, their staff, and all those who visit this iconic institution. The incident serves as a reminder that even the most revered institutions are not immune to potential dangers, and that constant vigilance and maintenance are crucial to preserving the integrity and safety of our nation’s landmarks.