Twenty years in the making, America's newest federal courthouse was dedicated today in Orlando with pomp and pageantry including a bass-baritone singer, a police color guard, dignitaries, ribbon cuttings, magnificient stained glass windows and 500 invited guests.This story adds:
But a building does not make a courthouse.
That was the message of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the keynote speaker at the official dedication of the $102 million George C. Young U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building Annex on West Central Boulevard.
"We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us," Thomas said, borrowing a line from Winston Churchill who urged the rebuilding to Britain's House of Commons after World War II bombings. "...As I stand here in this stunning new courthouse, I cannot help thinking of the issues that may be raised and the battles which will be fought some day."
Thomas spent much of his 10-minute speech on the "the rule of law" and the intent of the nation's founding fathers to insure justice in the courts like the Middle District of Florida, a growing, 35-county region which includes Orlando. And he repeatedly praised the new, six-story building, which he called "one of the nation's most beautiful public buildings" and a "spectacular exhibit to 21st Century art, architecture and engineering."
Afterward, Thomas participated in several ribbon-cutting ceremonies with dignitaries and was mobbed like a rock star. He signed autographs, posed for pictures and chatted with the public.
An Orlando Police Department honor guard leads U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (center), in a procession with Chief Judge of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals J.L. Edmondson (2nd from top) and Chief Middle District Judge Patricia Fawsett during the dedication ceremony of the George C. Young U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building Annex on West Central Boulevard on Friday. (Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel / September 21, 2007)
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas laughs during remarks at the dedication ceremony of the new George C. Young U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building Annex on West Central Boulevard on Friday. (Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel / September 21, 2007)