Tennessee Supreme Court to Hold Oral Arguments in Historic State Capitol Building Chambers

January 31, 2014

History will be the stage for the Tennessee Supreme Court as they hear oral arguments next week in the Supreme Court Chambers of the Tennessee State Capitol.

The Court regularly hears cases in the Supreme Court buildings in Jackson, Knoxville, and Nashville, but an invitation from Gov. Bill Haslam will bring them back to the place where the Court heard oral arguments in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Gov. Haslam is scheduled to welcome the Court to the chambers in the Capitol after the session opens at 8:55 a.m. on Thursday, February 6. The Court has six cases on the docket for oral arguments that day. The five state Supreme Court justices – Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, Justice Cornelia A. Clark, Justice Janice M. Holder, Justice William C. Koch, Jr., and Justice Sharon G. Lee – will sit on the panel. ­

The original Supreme Court chambers are located on the first floor of the structure, along with the offices of the governor and the constitutional officers – the secretary of state, the treasurer and the comptroller. That area also held chambers for the federal court at one time.

The Tennessee State Capitol ­– a National Historic Landmark – opened in 1859 and is one of the nation’s oldest working statehouses still in use. It is designed by William Strickland and is considered one of the country’s best examples of a Greek-revival style building.

The Tennessee Supreme Court moved its Nashville operations across 7th Avenue in 1937, when the current Supreme Court building was completed. The new home for the judiciary marked the first time a branch of state government moved out of the Capitol building in Tennessee. The Supreme Court chambers were remodeled into offices in the late 1930s, but restored to the original 1850s-era look in 1988.

The Supreme Court building celebrated its 75th year in 2012 and is poised to be named to the National Register of Historic Places. The Capitol building has undergone several renovations in its 155-year history – the most recent one completed just over a year ago.