Getting Ready For SCOTUS Spring

After a relatively low key and mild February at the Supreme Court the pace promises to quicken as the winds of March pick up and a flurry of cases fall (falls ?) on the docket.

I only sketched two arguments this week, Packingham v. North Carolina about a state law that prohibits registered sex offenders from going on social media sites such as FaceBook . . .

. . . and a very dense, to me at least, case on “subrogation clauses” in insurance policies: Coventry Health Care of Missouri v. Nevils

. . . and an opinion by Justice Kennedy in a racial gerrymandering case, Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections.

Taking advantage of the slow pace I spent most of my time in the courtroom this week preparing for the March and April arguments. My sketches depict fairly accurately the events I witness, but because of deadlines some work has to be done in advance. And so, I set to work on the architecture and other details. The justices are also penciled in in advance. The advantage of graphite pencil is I can make changes at any stage up to the point the watercolor is applied.



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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2 comments on “Getting Ready For SCOTUS Spring
  1. Avatar Meera says:

    Hi, I recognized yesterday that you were an artist sketching ( by your head/eye movements) while I was a guest listening to oral arguments -(Lee vs US Govt). I was also trying to sketch as the proceedings were going on – it was just practice for me to draw on the go :) I came home and googled you and came across a video as well as this web site. I love your sketches ! I have once before sketched the court when my son was admitted to the Supreme Court Bar and made a little painting of it as a remembrance for him since no cameras are allowed inside. – I fully appreciate your talent in capturing the Court scene and hope to see your sketch of yesterday up in this site soon!

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