Busy Day (for me) at the Court


The Supreme Court heard arguments in two interesting cases today neither of which made Nightly News (which is why I’m posting the drawings here).

In the first, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez,  a Christian student group challenged a University of California’s Hastings College of Law requirement that in order to be recognized as an official campus organization membership must be open to all students, regardless of belief or sexual orientation.

Arguing for the Christian Legal Society former U.S. 10th Circuit judge Michael McConnell sounded frustrated at some of the Justices’ questions, looking away and continuing to speak. Also sounding frustrated and perplexed were Justices Kennedy : “it’s frustrating not to know what is before us”, and Breyer :”what do I do with this case? ”

The second case, City of Ontario v. Quon, asks does an employee who sends personal text messages on a work supplied pager have a reasonable expectation of privacy?

The City of Ontario, California, represented here by Kent Richland, supplied it’s SWAT team officers with texting pagers. The officers were informed that their messages would be available to supervisors, but would likely not be looked at as long as they paid the cost of exceeding the text limit.

City officials later decided to perform an audit and obtained transcripts of messages sent on the devices. Officer Jeff Quon was found to have been sending personal messages, sometimes of a sexual nature, to his wife and to his mistress, a police dispatcher. Quon’s lawyer, Dieter Dammeier (pictured above) faced tough questioning from the start. Justice Ginsburg : “if an employee is told, now e-mails aren’t private, so we are warning you, we can monitor them, wouldn’t such an employee expect the same thing to apply to the pager?”

WaPo story on Hastings case here.

Art Lien

Courtartist is me, Art Lien. I've been sketching the courts since 1976, and for most of that time the U.S. Supreme Court has been my regular beat. I've been working almost exclusively for NBC News since 1980. Courtroom sketching is a form of visual journalism or reportage drawing that is slowly dying out. Where once upon a time news organization each had their own artist covering a story, today a "pool" artist often sketches for all. It is a demanding and stressful discipline where the drawing is often done directly and under tight deadline.

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