Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Get Around, Get Around...

Last week I was riding my bike in 37*, on a rural Kansas highway.
Today, this morning, I found myself standing in the pouring, cold rain, in a single-file line in 41*, waiting to go into this courtroom:

Yes!  The Supreme Court of the United States.
Washington, D.C.
Equal justice under the law.
King Solomon the Wise judicial decisions.  (We hope.  Hmm...well, maybe not the splitting the baby in two stuff.)

We, that Spouse o' Mine and I, arrived to D.C. this week.  I always have a perpetual bag packed in my bedroom, and I always have a list of things I want to see and do for any potential city visit.  The Supreme Court was not on MY docket, but it appeared online somewhere, and somewhere it mentioned that there would be arguments heard today.  (I do love me an argument, on occasion.  No; let's call them debates.)  Anyway, here I am and I should take advantage of the opportunity, yes?

I hopped on the Metro early this morning, in the deluge.  Winter coat, good winter boots, an umbrella.  I was set!  Off to Union Station, then a short walk in the downpoor, along with other umbrella-toting folks who were probably going to sensible and interesting jobs on Capitol Hill.  

When I got to the Supreme Court building, there was already a single-file line.  (It was mentioned online, and the passel of police officers confirmed that it WOULD be a single-file line.)  A young lady came back to a group behind me and mentioned that she had been standing in line for two hours.  Yikes!!  (I arrived after 9:00 am, to hopefully be seated in the courtroom at 9:30.  I swear, I am the ultimate optimist.)  

The group of six that she spoke with were standing directly behind me.  They were all 21 years old, as I eavesdropped.  They were senate interns.  They, like, used "like", like, every other word in each sentence.  And when they weren't using "like", they were dropping the f-bomb for every adjective.  They name-dropped any senator, or representative that they could conjure up in their day-to-day dealings.  They discussed salaries.  They talked NON-STOP.       

There were four young people standing in front of my in the single-file line.  They were students from George Washington University, and they were there on class assignment.  I don't know if they were law, or pre-law students.  I do know that they were polite and quiet and did not enter into any objectionable conversations. 

After the single-file line had grown to around the corner block, the police walked through to explain what would transpire: some of us would be seated for the entire argument (~ 90 minutes), and the rest of us would be allowed in for 10-minute seats.

I was one of the 10- minute seats.  In hindsight, after hearing the court case and not understanding much of it, probably my ten minutes was good enough.  I would have liked 20 minutes, and not the entire 90 minutes, I think, but I'll take what I can get.  

After filing through (single file) two security details, I made it into the Supreme Court court room.  And yes: the doorway leading into the courtroom was draped in black wool "bunting".  Justice Scalia's chair was draped in black fabric, as well.  And in front of his area of the desk was also draped in black, just beside Chief Justice John Robert's chair.  (That must feel odd, for all the Justices.)

I got to listen to just a brief snippet of the goings-on in the court room, and I had a hard time following the subject.  I was surprised at a couple of moments of levity in the process, where the justices and others would chuckle at some of the questioning.  Justice Ginsberg must be as small as I am, for she looked perched at her desk as low as I do at any given restaurant table.  Justice Alito rocked in his chair the entire time I was watching.  Clarence Thomas has very white hair.  

And so it went.  Shortly, I got a tap on the shoulder and I heard, "You must stand up now..." and that was my cue that my ten minutes were up.

I am so happy I went to experience the Supreme Court in session.  At least now I can visualize those folks when I read about them.

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