Inscription over the Pemberton Square entrance to the courthouse
On May 14, 2002, Acting Governor Jane Swift signed An Act Designating the Old Suffolk County Courthouse as the John Adams Courthouse in honor of John Adams, author of the Massachusetts Constitution, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, and second President of the United States. At a ceremony celebrating the designation, then Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall remarked:
"John Adams was the ingenious architect of our Constitution. He believed passionately that all people were born with certain rights that no government could take away. Driven by this vision of freedom, he devised an entirely new structure of government, one that had never been tried before. His draft of the Massachusetts Constitution proposed a balanced government, where the judicial branch existed independently but co-equally with the Executive and the Legislature. The notion that judges would decide cases based on the rule of law rather than the demands of the powerful was radical for its time. Yet the idea of an independent judiciary has become one of the great cornerstones of human freedom."