Monday, March 21, 2005

Waiting in Line for SupremeCourt Land

This week I have the pleasure of visiting the nation's capital and my many relatives who live in the area. Since I am currently enjoying a brief respite at my aunt's house from an otherwise busy day, I will write of all that I have done today.

First of all, I reprieved a goal that I tried to accomplish back in early 2001: viewing a full oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court, which I find a great fascination with despite its history of problematic rulings tainted by strong ideological beliefs of certian justices on the court, such as Dred Scott v. Sanford, Plessy v. Ferguson, Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railrods, Bush v. Gore.

This goal was not without its obstacles however, the main one being getting to the court early enough and then waiting for a long time to get into arguments. At least I was entertained by the people around me. Two girls standing behind me were especially noticeable, mainly because they laughed obnoxiously loud, with the shorter, stumpier of the two letting out a terrible, unending cackle everytime she laughed, which was probably every. other. word.

Fortunately, the conversation revealed these two to be Repulicans, and contrary to the suppositions of my friend who made comments a couple of entries below accusing my party and not his of being the party of hate, these girls were nothing but hateful towards Democrats. One, who came from New York talked of meeting her two senators, Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton reporting that her "skin was crawling" the whole time. The other commented that Hillary was her "least favorite person in the Senate." Then they took pot shots at Hillary for running for Senator of New York soon after taking up residency there (forget the fact that she was elected by a strong majority of New Yorkers!). They had to quit their criticism when it occured to them that Republican Alan Keyes had done a similar thing in Illinois (and Keyes became a resident of beautiful Illinois well into the campaign, a campaign he sizeably lost!).

They later started predictably directing anger--mocking anger with these two cacklers--towards "trial lawyers." Neither young woman could figure out the proper name--(it's personal injury lawyer) though that didn't stop them from ripping on them for only wanting money (since when did Republicans start getting down on people for making money--only when they support Democatic causes, I guess). One of the women even dismissed arguments she had once been given that anyone can face a devastating personal injury from a product or medical error as too sappy. These girls were Republicans through and through. (I couldn't help but notice that one of the girls mentioned her financial aid from school, which is strange because I thought Republicans didn't like "government handouts." Someone should kindly ask this girl to give back her financial aid).

Fortunately, waiting in front of me were two witty law students with whom I eventually struck up a conversation. They had come down to D.C. from Brooklyn University in New York and were eagerly hoping to get into the second case of the day, a case called Cutter v. Wilkinson which called into question the place of religion in public places (specifically, in prisons). The more talkative of the two, when it looked as if we were not likely to get into the arguments, joked that security should screen to let the people with the most interest in the case get in. At another point, the taller, quieter of the two asked his friend: "You know what would be really satisfying?" Friend's response: "Seeing Cutter argued?" They also joked about a crowd of high school students who were goofing off around the plaza of the Court saying, "These are the future leaders of America." I found out from the more talkative of the two that he had gone to Harvard undergrad with the intention of being a math professor. His advice: take time off after college. He had also gotten a masters in philosophy at Columbia and taught in a New York City public school!

Unfortunately for the two law students and for me, there was not enough space for us in the Court, even though we had waited in line for so long and even though we were pretty close to the front. So my proposal is this: increase seating space..maybe the size of an IMAX theater. Sell popcorn. Then Rehnquist and co. can get the salary increases he asks for every year in his annual report.

At least I got to see a press conference given by both sides of the Cutter case up close and wait around as a lot of lawyers who seemed to know each other mingled. That was an interesting spectacle of rites post-Supreme Court arguments. The nice thing though was that everyone, even the seemingly experienced lawyers, seemed excited to be at the Court.

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