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1957 Era-Faithful Courtroom

View of courtroom from the front

Case History

In September 1957, nine African American high school students attempted to enroll at Little Rock’s Central High School. The “Little Rock Nine” were turned away by members of the Arkansas National Guard on orders from Governor Orval Faubus. Attention then turned back to the federal lawsuit that had been filed the year before on the students’ behalf by Pine Bluff lawyer Wiley Branton, joined by lawyers from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, including then-lawyer Thurgood Marshall. George Howard, Jr., an associate of Mr. Branton, also supported the legal team. U.S. District Judge Ronald N. Davies, sitting by assignment from the District of North Dakota, presided over this part of this landmark school integration case—Aaron v. Cooper—in this courthouse. Judge Davies ordered the students admitted to Central High. The United States Supreme Court affirmed his decision. President Eisenhower enforced the Courts’ rulings by federalizing the Arkansas National Guard and deploying paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division. The Little Rock Nine integrated Central High School.

Watch an ABC News report featuring our era-faithful courtroom and the historic Little Rock Nine trial that unfolded within its walls. Explore our courtroom's educational initiatives, including the first-ever High School Mock Trial held in this authentic setting.

The Renovation Project

In 2021, the General Services Administration and U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas recovered the Judge’s bench (shown below) and other artifacts from the decommissioned auxiliary courtroom on the fourth floor where the historic proceedings in Aaron v. Cooper were held. GSA and the District Court joined hands, and began creating a 1957 era-faithful courtroom and civic learning center to use and display the artifacts. The aim is to create a living memorial to the rule of law. This ongoing renovation project will occur in several phases. Phase I was completed in May 2023, with Phase II scheduled to start in the summer of 2024. The original Judge’s bench is on temporary loan to the Supreme Court until 2026 for a special exhibit.

Original Judge’s bench from the Little Rock Nine case

The Exhibit

The Court invites you to reflect on these events as you walk the courthouse hallway, view photographs, and pass through the doors used by the Little Rock Nine when they came to this Court seeking what the Constitution promised them.

Exhibit hallway
Authentic doors to original courtroom

Courtroom Tours

Courtroom AC436 is open to the public when Court is in session. All are welcome to tour the courtroom when no proceeding or construction is in progress. To schedule a group tour, call 501-604-5300 or email