Supreme Court nominee Stephen Breyer may someday pen monumental decisions. But already he has created a more tangible monument. As chief judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, Breyer was heavily involved in planning a lavish new waterfront courthouse, one of the costliest federal courthouses ever. In four years, the I.M. Pei-designed structure's price has soared 34%, to $218 million, or $285 per square foot--triple the average cost for state and local courthouses. Construction is to start this winter.
The judges will benefit from 37 libraries and 33 kitchens. Plus, the courthouse has a six-story atrium, a $450,000 boat dock on Boston Harbor, and $789,000 in artwork. Representative John Duncan (R-Tenn.) gripes that this doesn't show "high regard for the taxpayer." With his nomination pending, Breyer isn't talking to the press.