On either side of the main steps of the US Supreme Court, facing the U.S. Capitol, are seated marble figures, the work of sculptor James Earle Fraser. On the left is a female figure, the Contemplation of Justice. On the right is a male figure, the Guardian or Authority of Law. The sculptures were installed in 1935, a month after the building opened.
Fraser described the female figure as “a realistic conception of what I consider a heroic type of person with a head and body expressive of the beauty and intelligence of justice.”
The seated female figure holds a law book in her left hand reflects on a small figure of Justice that she holds in her right hand. The figure of Justice is blindfolded and cradles a set of scales in her arms. The portrayal of a female figure representing Justice dates back to depictions of Themis and Justicia in ancient mythology. Themis, known for her clear-sightedness, was the Greek Goddess of Justice and Law. In Roman mythology, Justicia was one of the four Virtues along with Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance.
Today, the blindfold represents impartiality, the ideal that justice should be applied without regard to wealth, power, or other status. The scales represent the weighing of evidence, and the scales lack a foundation in order to signify that evidence should stand on its own.