martes, 4 de mayo de 2010

Catarsis en los escalones de la Corte

Ayer se tomaron medidas de seguridad en la Suprema Corte de los Estados Unidos. Para proteger a los ministros y las instalaciones, se ha cerrado la puerta principal y desde ahora los visitantes, todos, desde los abogados hasta los turistas, deberán ingresar por las puertas laterales.
Los ministros Breyer y Ginsburg lamentan mucho esta decisión, pues consideran que la entrada principal de la SCOTUS fué diseñada para provocar en el visitante una especie de catarsis.
En realidad sí fué esta la idea del arquitecto, por ello la impinada subida de esos imponentes escalones de mármol. La historia la cuentan los justices en su memo:

Memorandum of Justice Breyer, with whom Justice Ginsburg

I write with regret to note the closing of the Court’s front entrance.
The Supreme Court building is currently undergoing extensive construction,
and the Court has decided that, after this construction is
completed, visitors to the Court—including the parties whose cases we
decide, the attorneys who argue those cases, and the members of the
public who come to listen and to observe their government in action—
will have to enter through a side door. While I recognize the reasons
for this change, on balance I do not believe they justify it. I think the
change is unfortunate, and I write in the hope that the public will one
day in the future be able to enter the Court’s Great Hall after passing
under the famous words “Equal Justice Under Law.”
Cass Gilbert faced a difficult problem when he was commissioned to
design the Court’s present home. The Court was to be built on a
small, irregularly-shaped plot of land adjacent to both the Capitol and
the Library of Congress, two powerful and prominent architectural
competitors. How was Gilbert to create a distinctive, yet fitting, home
for the Court in these circumstances?
Gilbert’s solution was to design an entrance that, in the words of
architect and lawyer Paul Byard, “emphasiz[ed] the processional progress
toward justice reenacted daily in [the Court’s] premises.” Starting
at the Court’s western plaza, Gilbert’s plan leads visitors along
a carefully choreographed, climbing path that ultimately ends at the
courtroom itself. The Court’s forty-four marble steps, the James
Earle Fraser sculptures Contemplation of Justice and Authority of
Law, the Western portico with its eight pairs of columns standing high
above the removed wings of the building, the Great Hall—each of these
elements does its part to encourage contemplation of the Court’s central
purpose, the administration of justice to all who seek it.
But the significance of the Court’s front entrance extends beyond its
design and function. Writers and artists regularly use the steps to
represent the ideal that anyone in this country may obtain meaningful
justice through application to this Court. And the steps appear in
countless photographs commemorating famous arguments or other moments
of historical importance. In short, time has proven the success
of Gilbert’s vision: To many members of the public, this Court’s main
entrance and front steps are not only a means to, but also a metaphor
for, access to the Court itself.
This is why, even though visitors will remain able to leave via the
front entrance, I find dispiriting the Court’s decision to refuse to permit
the public to enter. I certainly recognize the concerns identified in the
two security studies that led to this recent decision (which reaffirmed a
decision made several years ago). But potential security threats will
exist regardless of which entrance we use. And, in making this decision,
it is important not to undervalue the symbolic and historic importance
of allowing visitors to enter the Court after walking up Gilbert’s
famed front steps.
To my knowledge, and I have spoken to numerous jurists and architects
worldwide, no other Supreme Court in the world—including
those, such as Israel’s, that face security concerns equal to or greater
than ours—has closed its main entrance to the public. And the main
entrances to numerous other prominent public buildings in America
remain open. I thus remain hopeful that, sometime in the future, technological
advances, a Congressional appropriation, or the dissipation of
the current security risks will enable us to restore the Supreme Court’s
main entrance as a symbol of dignified openness and meaningful access
to equal justice under law.

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