Yesterday, I watched the oral arguements for the U.S. Supreme Court. I joined about 40 some journalists in the press gallery. I could only see the Justices at an angle.
When I saw Justice Clarence Thomas – I remembered one of my skating compeititons at Canjoe Valley. That rink was about 2 1/2 hours away from home – and I remember the stationed being tuned into news reports on the confirmation hearings for Thomas. Anybody remember that? With Anita Hill accusing him of stuff?
Ok – back at the Supreme Court. We had to leave our coats, cameras, cell phones and any other electronic devices in the press trailer. All we could bring in – a purse, notebook and pen. That’s all.
I shot some interviews on the steps of the Supreme Court, earlier that morning. So – I forgot to bring a business jacket for the court room. I felt pretty darn un-professional – wearing a turtleneck – while my collegues were dolled up in suits and make-up. Oh well…it’s not like anybody in the courtroom could see us in the press section on the side. The other folks seated in the center of the courtroom could see the lawyers and the justices. But only the press was allowed to bring in notebooks and pens.
We watched Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary County (KY) v. ACLU. Both are about the government-sponsored display of the ten commandments on public grounds. The pro-ten commandments folks basically argued that the displays were historical ones. The anti-ten commandments folks said the displays were religious and could been seen as endorsement of religion.
Justice Antonin Scalia had most of the zingers and the courtroom ended up cracking up at his punchlines.
The oral arguements are fair game for the justices. They can interrupt the lawyers at anytime. Scalia suggested to one lawyer to consider narrowing his opening arguement – after 5-7 minutes of talking.
It was interested for both cases to focus on the depiction of Moses with the ten commandments. Yeah – he’s in a frieze – just above the courtroom – with other lawgivers.
It was thrilling experience for me.