Reinforcing Federal Law: The Designer Courthouses In Massachusetts and their Meaning for the First Circuit

March 20, 2009

John Brigham
Professor of Political Science
UMass Amherst

Professor Brigham examined the federal courthouse building-boom of the late 20th and early 21st century in the United States as an extension of national authority. He focused on a particular jurisdiction, the First Circuit, and two new designer courts, the Moakley Courthouse in Boston designed by Henry Cobb and the Springfield District Court designed by Moshe Safti.  Construction of these buildings has implications for the four New England States in the Circuit and Puerto Rico, injecting an increased federal presence that suggests different political orientations in these specific places. These courthouses are also particular cases of a larger phenomenon in which billions of dollars have been spent on federal courts with little public discussion.

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