Supreme Court tours on rise

8 July 2002

Supreme Court tours on rise

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -- Educational tours of the Supreme Court of Missouri have increased almost 43 percent over the past two years. Nearly 21,410 people visited the Supreme Court during fiscal 2002. That number reflects a more than 12 percent increase over the previous year, when approximately 19,070 people visited the Court. In fiscal 2000, the Court hosted about 15,000 people. Visitors this year came from as far away as Belgium, Japan, Korea and Russia. They included numerous schoolchildren, ranging from preschoolers to college and law school students; international legal staff and judicial personnel; members of chamber of commerce leadership classes throughout the state; and tourism industry writers. Some visiting groups also attended oral arguments before the Court.

"One of the best ways to learn about the third branch of government is to come to a court, observe it in action and talk with members of the court," Chief Justice Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., said. "Missouri has a rich legal history, and the Court is proud to showcase a part of it by hosting visitors in our beautiful, 95-year-old building."

The three-story red brick building, which was completed in 1907, took two years to finish and was paid for with $400,000 from the proceeds of the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.  It was constructed almost completely with materials from Missouri, including quarter-sawn oak, iron and marble. Over the years, the Supreme Court Building has served as home to thousands of some of the state's most important court cases as well as the Missouri Senate, which used the Division I courtroom as its chambers after the capitol building burned down in 1911.

Building tours, which usually last 30 minutes, are available year-round. Visitors learn about the history of the building and tour one of its two courtrooms. They also see the library, which holds more than 110,000 volumes, including cases as far back as 1620 and one book from the 15th century. The library also has an oak and glass case displaying original hand-written documents from the famed Dred Scott case, heard by the Supreme Court of Missouri in the early 1850s.

To give visitors a better understanding of the Court, the tours usually are guided by law clerks, who are attorneys who work closely with the Supreme Court's judges, assisting them in researching and writing opinions. Anyone interested in scheduling a tour can contact Beth Riggert, communications counsel, by calling (573) 751-4144, or by sending an e-mail request to