Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The top floor of the Supreme Court is famously home to a gym and basketball court known as the "Highest Court in the Land," Stanley Kay of Sports Illustrated writes.

The big picture: The Supreme Court's court is a haven where political differences no longer matter, creating a hallowed space where hundreds of clerks, aides and even justices tabled the issues of the day to dish out assists, set screens and drain jump shots.

"It was sort of a place where everyone took off their uniforms and you couldn't tell who was who. ... You were just playing basketball."
— Nikolas Bowie, a former clerk for Justice Sonia Sotomayor

The details: The Highest Court wasn't always that — it was once just a space for storage. "The building's architect, Cass Gilbert, designed the room for storage. At an unknown point in the 1940s — the building opened in 1935 — an unknown person transformed it into a gym," Kay writes.

  • The court was once used for tennis by Justice Hugo Black, but eventually basketball became the gym's mainstay. No activity is allowed while court is in session.
  • "The original floor was concrete and unforgiving, the room cramped and the ceiling far too low — but that has only added to the quirky charm of what's known as the Highest Court in the Land."

Everyone from security guards, cafeteria workers, librarians, clerks and even justices themselves have laced up for games of pick-up ball. Big names include:

  • Justice Clarence Thomas
  • Justice Elena Kagan
  • Justice Byron White
  • Justice Neil Gorsuch, including his time as a clerk for White and Justice Anthony Kennedy
  • Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh — during his time as a Kennedy clerk

Thomas even famously tore his Achilles tendon while playing against Karl Tilleman, a former clerk of his, who played for Canada's Olympic basketball team during the 1980s.

Go deeper

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp."

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.

Trump pardons former GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy

President Trump has pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty late last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a campaign to sway the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.

Why it matters: Broidy was a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee early in Trump’s presidency, and attempted to leverage his influence in the Trump administration on behalf of his clients. The president's decision to pardon Broidy represents one last favor for a prominent political ally.