Rather than a monolithic institution, courts are collections of buildings, people, traditions, and rules that interface with millions of Americans every day. While activists wait outside the Supreme Court for news about decisions of great social, legal and political import, most Americans encounter courts in more personal ways, both large and small. We come to the courthouse – or these days, log on to court websites – to dispute traffic tickets, adopt children, provide testimony, support loved ones, and serve as jurors. As some of the few ways that most Americans interact with our government, these experiences deeply inform our concepts of government authority and civic duty and shape how we understand justice – including to and by whom it is meted out. This course examines the concept of the institution against its practical manifestation as public architecture and civil procedure, clerks and bailiffs, forms and fees, and robes and flags. It focuses on how our legal rights and obligations are made real in the complicated context of limited resources, competing interests, evolving technologies and human diversity.