Charleston, WV- mid the frenzy and long hours of the 2005 Legislative Session, the West Virginia Senate took time to welcome and honor a delegation of representatives from the United States Supreme Court Historical Society and the United States Supreme Court Fellows Program. The visit to Charleston was the first by each group and was the result of invitations by State Senator John Yoder ( R- Jefferson).
“I annually attend events in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Supreme Court. The events are sponsored by the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society. I felt it would be wonderful to host an event here in Charleston for members of the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society.” Yoder said.
The West Virginia State Capitol Building and the U.S. Supreme Court Building were both designed by architect Cass Gilbert. Gilbert also designed the worlds first skyscraper, which was the Woolworth Building in New York City.
“Throughout my time here at the Capitol, I have noticed many outstanding and beautiful similarities in the architecture of our State Capitol Building and the U.S. Supreme Court Building, where I used to work.” said Yoder.
Senator Yoder was once a member of the Supreme Court Fellows Program. This program gives exceptionally talented lawyers the chance to serve a one year fellowship at the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1980, Senator Yoder was one of three individuals selected nationwide as a fellow. During his fellowship he worked for Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger. Senator Yoder was then hired as a full time staff member to work for Chief Justice Burger. Senator Yoder remained at this position until he was hired by the U.S. Department of Justice, where he set up a the new asset forfeiture office in 1984.
Through his contacts at the U.S. Supreme Court, Senator Yoder had the unique postion of inviting the Supreme Court Historical Society and the Supreme Court Fellows to the West Virginia State Capitol.
“Having been a fellow myself, I wanted the current fellows to have a chance to come and experience our State. I also wanted them to have the opportunity of viewing our Capitol building in Charleston and see another magnificent work by Cass Gilbert. Few people know that the U.S. Supreme Court Building was designed after our own Supreme Court.”
During their stay in Charleston, the Supreme Court Delegation attended a reception at the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse sponsored by the West Virginia State Bar and the law firm of Thorp, Reed & Armstrong, LLP, and had breakfast at the Governor’s mansion, where they met with the Governor and First Lady. The delegation also met with Chief Justice Albright of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, toured both the West Virginia Supreme Court and the Capitol, where they reviewed historical drawings and artifacts relating to Cass Gilbert’s design of the Capitol. The visit ended with the West Virginia Senate honoring the delegation on the floor of the Senate Chamber and the presentation of a unanimous resolution authored by Senator Yoder.
“I believe the visit was a tremendous success, and I think that because of this success there is a good chance that we will be able to host one of the Supreme Court Historical Society’s Lecture’s next year. It would be a wonderful opportunity to showcase our state and promote tourism.” said Senator Yoder.
Assisting Senator Yoder in coordinating the visit was West Virginia Education and the Arts Cabinet Secretary Kay Goodwin and her assistant Martha Mckee.