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.
A little late posting this sketch from Monday of Justice Kagan announcing the opinion in Cooper v. Harris. Note that Justices Alito and Breyer were absent from the bench though they did take part in the decision. Justice Gorsuch (spell check keeps insisting on “Grouch”), who was on the bench, took no part.
The full Fourth Circuit – less two recused – sat in Richmond yesterday for the first appellate review of Trump’s travel ban. Next Monday the Ninth Circuit will also hear arguments on a Hawaiian judge’s order blocking parts of the “Muslim ban”. The Ninth Circuit allows cameras, so don’t expect sketches.
Justice Breyer had the opinions in both cases announced today, Venezuela v. Helmerich & Payne International and Bank of America Corp. v. City of Miami ( note, Justice Sotomayor was absent from the bench ).
And although one courtroom sketch covered both opinions, I also did my usual SCOTUSblog banner sketch.
On Wednesday the Justices heard arguments in the last two scheduled cases of the term. Between now and the end of June they will take the bench only to announce opinions, and possibly for the ceremonial investiture of Justice Gorsuch.
The first argument, Sandoz v. Amgen, an exceedingly complex case on a provision of the Affordable Care Act that covers biosimilar drugs.
The second argument, Maslenjak v. U.S., raised concerns, especially for Chief Justice Roberts, about prosecutorial overreach. The case involves a naturalized citizen who lied on her application and was therefore stripped of her citizenship.
“Some time ago,” Roberts asked the government’s lawyer, “outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles per hour in a 55-miles-per-hour zone. I was not arrested.” “Now you say that if I answered that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door and say, guess what, you’re not an American citizen after all.”
A pair of civil jurisdiction cases on the next to last argument day of the Supreme Court’s term promised little in the way of news, but for a ringtone that sounded early into the first argument. Cell phones are not permitted in the courtroom, except maybe for the Justices. And sure enough, it was Justice Breyer’s phone that rang.
So that was the news of the day. Here are my sketches from the arguments, Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California and BNSF Railway v. Tyrrell, as well as the opinion in Lewis v. Clarke announced by Justice Sotomayor.
The justices today heard arguments about whether an indigent defendant is entitled to truly independent expert assistance ( McWilliams v. Dunn ), and on the subject of ineffective assistance of counsel ( Davila v. Davis ).
I thought the Court’s newest justice would have a lot to say during arguments in the church-state separation case, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, heard yesterday. But Justice Gorsuch asked no questions until the very end, and then nothing very pointed.
Just a couple sketches from today’s very technical argument in Kokesh v. SEC . . .
Justice Gorsuch took his seat on the Supreme Court bench for the first time today, actively questioning lawyers presenting oral arguments.
With the Gorsuch confirmation hearings last week and the removal of the North Carolina transgender case from this week’s argument calendar it’s been an unusually quiet March at the Supreme Court. April may be more interesting when, for better or worse, a ninth justice takes the bench.