View Full Version : Anyone watched oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court before?
11-19-2008, 04:59 PM
I'm going to be in DC soon and was looking for what to do with a day off I'm going to have while in town. I work in law and decided to see if the Supreme Court would be in session that day, and lo and behold, it will be! So, I've decided I'm going to go because the cases being argued are somewhat interesting, and even if they weren't, it would still be cool to see the Justices in action.
I'm just wondering if anyone else here has done the same thing, and if so, what should I expect?
11-19-2008, 05:12 PM
Get there early. A friend and I went while in law school and we picked a case that was sure to attract little media or popular attention. We failed to notice that the case after it on the docket was something incredibly controversial (I don't recall what) and we didn't get in.
Hey, I'm off the next couple weeks. Maybe I'll try to get in there if they're currently hearing cases.
11-19-2008, 05:16 PM
Thanks! Define "early" please.
11-20-2008, 08:42 AM
I'd say early means "earlier than you think." Sorry I can't be more specific than that.
Also, there's a line to see a whole case and a five-minute line. It sounds like you'd be interested in the first, but obviously the second moves more quickly. There are cops around who can tell you which is which.
11-20-2008, 09:42 AM
If there is a case of any magnitude on the docket, forget any chance of getting in. If I wanted to get in, I'd plan on getting in line at least an hour - maybe 2 - before they start which is IIRC 10 a.m. IMO there are a LOT more interesting things to do in DC than stand in a line for hours to hear lawyers and judges blat on. Of course, that is what I get to experience every day in my job!
I've sat at counsel table for an argument a friend of mine was arguing. Expect it to be pretty much as boring as any appellate argument - but LONGER. You can get just about the same experience sitting in on your local Ct of Appeals - especially if they are conducting en banc review in their ceremonial courtroom.
S.Ct. is a kinda neat room. Smaller than I expected. Nice curtains.
11-20-2008, 09:47 AM
Yes, do the five minutes. IAAL but I wouldn't want to sit and listen to that blather (unless it was a tax case, of course :) ).
11-20-2008, 10:04 AM
In case it matters, here (http://www.scotuswiki.com/index.php?title=Ashcroft%2C_Former_ATT'Y_Gen._v._Iqbal) is one of the cases being argued on that day, and here (http://www.scotuswiki.com/index.php?title=AT%26T_Corp._v._Hulteen) is the other.
11-20-2008, 10:07 AM
Just looking at those pages, I bet Iqbal will draw a fair amount of attention.
11-20-2008, 10:25 AM
Yeah - Iqbal is going to be huge. You might be lucky and get to see a demonstration on the cthse steps, which might be more interesting than any argument! But not much chance of getting in to see it. You'd have to wait hours even for the 5 min line.
I was in DC with my kids a few years back when the U of Mich quotas/discrim case was being argued. The crowds around the court were long a highlight in my kids' memories of the trip.
11-20-2008, 10:33 AM
I did once, in college, as a Constitutional Law class assignment. It's really dull if you don't know much about the cases being argued, but the building and courtroom are worth seeing from the inside.
11-20-2008, 10:48 AM
...the building and courtroom are worth seeing from the inside.
There is a very nice tour - including the courtroom - when court is not in session.
You can also check our where official business is conducted, and see if you can stumble into those areas. For example I remember going into the clerk's office to pick up some papers one time. Pretty much like any clerk's office anywhere, but let's you see a part of the place where the work is done.
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