Updated Jul 29, 2018

What we're reading: The Supreme Court's famous basketball court

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

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,014,673 — Total deaths: 52,973 — Total recoveries: 210,335Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 244,678 — Total deaths: 5,911 — Total recoveries: 9,058Map.
  3. 2020 updates: The Democratic National Committee said its July convention will be postponed until August because of the coronavirus. A federal judge declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election.
  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for a nationwide stay-at-home order. FDA allows blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

CNN: Fauci advises all states issue stay-at-home orders

Dr. Anthony Fauci listens to President Trump speak during a briefing on April 1. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci recommended on Thursday that all states across the U.S. implement stay-at-home orders, at a CNN town hall.

Why it matters: The recommendation stands in contrast to President Trump's calls for "flexibility." Nearly 4o states have issued stay-at-home orders to promote social distancing as a way to combat the novel coronavirus — but the orders vary in strictness and duration.

Go deeperArrow40 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Novel coronavirus infections have surpassed the 1 million mark after "near exponential growth" that's reached "almost every country," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.

The big picture: Policy responses to the global coronavirus crisis have been every-country-for-itself and — in the case of the U.S. and China — tinged with geopolitics. But, the scientific work underway to understand the virus and develop a vaccine has been globalized on an unprecedented scale.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health