xt7msb3wtd0h_33 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7msb3wtd0h/data/mets.xml https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7msb3wtd0h/data/72m2.dao.xml unknown 166 Cubic Feet 381 document boxes, seven textile items, three map folders, one artwork archival material 72m2 English University of Kentucky The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.  Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Frederick Moore Vinson papers Economic stabilization. Elections -- United States -- Congresses. Judges -- Correspondence. Judges -- United States. Judicial opinions Judicial process -- United States Legislators -- Correspondence. New Deal, 1933-1939. World War, 1914-1918 -- Veterans. World War, 1939-1945. Marshall - acoustics in the Court text Marshall - acoustics in the Court 2019 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7msb3wtd0h/data/72m2/Box_166/Folder_2/Multipage4058.pdf 1948-1952 1952 1948-1952 section false xt7msb3wtd0h_33 xt7msb3wtd0h . . a; In paste fine. Washington, D. 6..
as ancond-clrzs mail matter


13 ~ Wednesday. May 13, 1952


Courtroom Acoustics

Mani' citizens who were eager to hear
the arguments before the Supreme Court
in the steel seizure case were disappointed
because they could not get into the court-
room. and QillQLS.‘.'l‘llQ succeededin‘gctting‘

inside were perturbed because they could

not hear What was said. The court sensibly
relaxed its rule against standing; in the
courtroom so that an additional 200 eager
onlookers could be accommodated. but: this
did not correct. the room's poor acoustics.
- oin- ma dim n‘hoic mt‘rfctt'vuf ac
commodating the public in the Supreme
Court chamber ought to be reexamined.

Some time ago. the court experimented
with a public address system, but no such .
aid to hearing has been permanently in-
stalled. it. is said that some Justices object
to having their comments to their brethren
picked up on a public address system,
but this could be avoided either by switches
to turn off the microphones on the bench
when desired or by installing: a microphone
only at the lectern from which attorneys
address the court. Some means of amplil'y—
ing the attorneys‘ voices is especially de<
sirable because they necessarily address
the lodges and thus speak with their backs
in the audience.

Fortunately. a stenneraphic rer'orrl otithe
argument in the steel case u-a: mad—o. This
Vii] be available to the iligants and pre-
sumably to members of the court it they
desire to consult it. as copies of such
records. although made at the behest of
the litigants, are usually tiled in the Su-
preme Court Library. In important cases
of this sort it. seems to us that the public
interest would be served by an official
court record of the argument—a record
which could be made available to the press
and radio. Or the court might permit a
tape recording of its proceedings in im-
portant cases. In this instance a" request
for permission to make,a tape recording
was denied. but we do not. see why it
could not be done without detracting from
the dignity of the court.


 Supreme Court of the United States.



Mrs. McHug
As the Chief Justice requested
this survey to be made, please let him

see the attached, upon his return.







Justice Reed.........v.......

Justice Erankfurter..ot.........


‘ Justice Douglas.;a...a..;.3}.3..... Igiiv' i

Justice Murphy..............
Justice Jackson...........
Justice Rutledge........oo-

Justice Burton........

Please Return to the Chief Justice.




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51.11132? 4 39 PH ’11?-

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National Bureau of Standards



Mr. Thomas E aggaman,
Marshal of the .Supreme Court,
Supreme Court Building,

War hington, 3.0.

Acoustics of
Supreme Court Chamber
Dear Mr. Taggm an:
In accordance with your recent request, members of the
Sound Section visited the Supreme Court Chamber in order to investi
gate its acoustical properties.

At the time of this visit, the Chamber was, of course, devoid of
audience and observations made under such conditions should therefore be
conSidered as tentative only. Unless the speaker, be he either a Supreme
Court Justice or counsel, speaks clearly at a level somewhat above that
of a normal conversational. tone, it is probable that good hearing con-
ditions will not result :or an appreciable part of the audience. This

condition canrot be readilyi emedied without providing some means of
sound reinforcement. Before making any final decision, however, it is
felt that some observations of auditory conditions should be made when

the Court is in session.

Very truly yours,

Chief, Sound Section.




°“ L °F A" ”S am 3n 9 .3 waif/6F
October 49, 1948 CHAMBER5kfirTfi515

Mr. Thomas E. Waggaman,
Marshal of the Supreme Court,
Supreme Court Building,
Washington, D. C.

subject: Acoustics of
Supreme Court Chamber

Dear MI. Waggaman:

In continuance of our investigation of the acoustics of
the Supreme Court Chamber, our Dr. Albert London visited the
Chamber on October 14 while the Court was in session.

Most of the difficulty in hearing the proceedings as
evidenced by complaints from the public and from court stenog—
raphers sitting in the section reserved for members of the
bar is apparently a result of the low sound level at which
the Justices and sometimes the Counsel speak. If the speaker
does not speak at a level somewhat above thatcn‘anormal con-
versational tone he is not understood by an appreciable part
of the audience. This is a result of the interplay of
several factors, the primary one being the rather large size
of the Chamber, some 200,000 cubic feet. In addition, there
is considerable background noise level due to operation of
air conditioning equipment, audience noises such as coughing
and walking, and noise resulting from ushering the public to
their seats. The latter is mostly accompanied by loud click-
ing noises caused by unlocking the metallic spring clasps on
the guard ropes used to close off various rows in the public
seating section.

It is possible to improve auditory conditions so that
the proceedings will be heard and understood, by providing a
public address system having the following components:

Ten microphones, one for each justice and one for
counsel. The microphones for the justices should






 be provided with a two-position off-on switch cone
trolled by each individual justice. In the first
position the microphone will be active only while
the switch is held; in the second position the
microphone will be on without holding the switch.
A signal light should be provided with each micro-
phone to indicate when it is on.

Two loudspeakers so arranged as to provide sound
reinforcement in the bar and public seating sec—
tions. Little sound reinforcement will occur

at the bench or for counsel in the proposed loud-
speaker arrangement. It would be difficult to
provide sound amplification at these positions
because of what is known technically as "feedback"
which would cause the public address system to
produce a penetrating whistling or howling noise.

One automatic sound level monitoring arrangement
known as a program regulator. This_would automat-
ically tend to keep the sound level constant in
the Chamber irrespective of differences in level
at which each justice or counsel spoke. No regu—
lation, monitoring, or other attention would be
required by personnel during operation of the
public address system.

Associated accessories required to complete the
public address system.

A fairly reliable detailed estimate of the cost of such
a system which was Obtained in consultation with a reputable
local public address installation company is $4,800.00. If
only one microphone were installed, i.e. for counsel, the
cost would be about $2,200.00. It is doubtful, however,
that there would be much point to installing a public address
system for counsel only, inasmuch as our observations indi-
cate that counsel usually speaks loudly enough, except when
reading textual material relating to decisions previously
handed down and already in printed form.

We believe that the public address system outlined in
the above will provide a satisfactory solution to the diffi-
culties experienced in the Supreme Court Chamber. As has
been indicated by yourself and other Court personnel, there
may be some difficulty associated with the use of the



system in that conversations between Justices, not intended
as a part of the official proceedings of the Court, may he
broadcast inadvertently. This phase of the problem could
only be solved by proper manipulation of the microphone
off-on switches by the Justices themselves. If this con-
stitutes a serious objection to use of the system during
those sessions devoted to argument of counsel and question—
ing by the Justices, the sound reinforcement system could
still be used when the session is devoted to delivering of
opinions by the Court.

In the event that you desire to install the proposed
system, probably the most efficient procedure would be for
your organization to obtain the services of a competent
public address installation firm.who would work out the
detailed design. We stand ready, however, to provide any
consulting services which you may require.

Very truly yours,

For the Director,
2- ,Z

v , / /,’
m; 1

Richard K. Cook,
Chief, Sound Section.


cc: Architect of the Capitol


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as; Acoustics in the Court Race

Lee’s fell Dr. Landau or the Bureau of standards ude e awayr c!
the acoustics of our Conn acc- to determine whether the coupleinte
of the Be:- and publie, that they could not hear the com or canned,
eere Justified. He found: ' - ' . .

”fleet. of the diffieuny in hearing the proceedinp' as evidenced
by canpleint‘e from the public and tron court etenomphere eitting in
the notion reeerved {or embers of the he: is epparently e reenlt er
the lee ecnnd level at which the Julticee and matinee the conneel
speak. If the ape-kee- dcee, not epeek at e level eoneehet ‘ebcve that
o: a meal communal tone he ie not. undereteod by en appreciable
part. of the eudieme. m- ic e reeult of the interpley of eeverel
factors, the p .- b n: ' e c: the Che-her,
some 206,000 cub I - w . ' mace-able beckground
mice lml due ' . ~ 1 equipnent, . eudieme
noisee such en a,_ » . noi- eulting rm mhering
the public to the h


He euggcete as a deeirehle solution he our problen, the improve-
lent. ci’ the amateur ccnditicne in the Court Room, me e public» ed.
dreee eyeten be mulled with e microphone en comel'e deek end on
each deck or a lube:- cf the Com. macepeekere would be avenged
lo a to provide wand-reinforcement in the Ber end public eating
cocaine with an euteee’eic ”and level neutering encasement Ihich
mm tend to keep the eennd level content in the chamber inc-pectin
ct differeneee in level at which eeeh Janice or counsel epeeke.

Ir peet objections to the intelletien e: microphone en the Bench
hereheen on the grounds the: 'eeidee' by the Jessica night he picked
up end ewlitied to their aha-rennet. 9:. London eeeuree me iv
here no longer eonetiwu e problee, shut the microphenee to he infiel-
led on the decks of the [where 6! the Court would hue e pineal-dike
grip hhet' we: be equeeeed to nice the W eperete, eimltenecue— ‘
lyemllredpilot lightmld ligatupee efurtherneticetothe
nut that the circuit my in use, u econ es the hand preeeure wee re-
leased the inetment meld once here be dead. men delivering opiniene

 The chief Justice _ Key 6 , 19119

:3 menus]. catch mold hold the instrument. in use shioh after the close
or en opinion would be manually closed by the Justice. abould you
agree the gripping of a smell hsndle, or the sliding of a ostoh were
reesonsble safeguards, there mold only remain the matter" of securing
an spproprlatlm to defray the expenses of installation and upkeep.
Br. London further "tinted the commuted installation could be
m. ‘3? “,am.

After considerable thougat I believe the inshelletion should be
more extensive than first. dismissed with Dr. London, thus in addition
' to those mentioned shove, derephones or plug-m boxes therefor should
be installed on the desks of the clerk and Isabel so they any be de-
sirable at some future dens; ~ ‘

Loud-speakers should be instilled in the press room, counsel some
and in at least one at our large oonterenoe room to accommodate the
office assistants the lawyers bring with then or send to Court to listen
for opinions, when frequently there is no space svsllable for then in
the court noon; one in the Clerk's Office slam the Assistant clerk
advises counsel by phone a: me is there trempiring and one in the
Hershsl'e Office likewise for the intonation of the her an: public
continually asking whet opinion is being reed.

Rash Justice's arms. and ”prawn the Justice's conference Roan
should be provided with an outlet so that it indisposed or disqualified,
a sensor of the com sight listen 1: he washed. -

For the nominally quite den! sitar-hey a plug—in should be pro-
vided at the lantern to emble his to follow the Justices' questions;
additional plug-ins would be provided at each from. counsel noble to
enable counsel in the one to follow the moon’s. 31:: additional
plug-nine for em the bar and public sections are recommended to pro--
vide a prospective nee:- eho should request. the use of s headphone use
an stoendent with then.

Ihils this additional equipment would probably sore then double
the original estimate 11-. would Justify luau” Further if the wires
. use not ms at the cm of the original installation or additions].
branches eontenpleted, it well night he that the machine to be memes
would not at a later dots enemas“ then.

should the court be interested in the shove suggestions, and I as
so directed, I #111,111 condemnation with Hr. Lynn and his assistant, Kr.
Kramer. then ascertain the best types of installation for our purpose
as sell es en utilises of the costs thereof and sums thee st :1 laser

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5222 MASS. AVE.. N. W. WASHINGTON 16. D. C.

HAY I6 3 3? PH ’52



Fred M. Vinson,

Chief Justice,

United States Supreme Court,
Washington, D. C.

Dear Sir:

The enclosed editorial taken from The Washington Post
comments on the poor acoustics in the Supreme Court.

As an acoustical engineer, I wonder why this condition
exists and why the Court does not do something to correct this
condition. Of course, the first step would be to employ a competent
acoustical engineer whose opinions and recommendations would be
unbiased in the selection of materials, and who could also work with

the Architect of the building in maintaining the architectural design.
I would Welcome the oprortunity of doing this work. For
your information, I enclose a reference list of some recent nrojects

on which I acted as Consultant to the Architect or Ownen

Very truly yours,



 rn, acoustical Engineer
Ave. n‘w. Washington, D.C.

/‘ 7‘ 7‘ 3'.


Waverly Taylor



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