The plan was for me to join the panel briefly to discuss my experiences at the Supreme Court and Tsarnaev trial and then sketch the rest of the show. News of Beau Biden’s death brought a more somber mood to the show that, along with Secretary of State John Kerry’s bicycling accident, caused me to get bumped from the show. Still, I did this sketch, and got to visit friends in New York.
It was bitterly cold outside the Supreme Court this morning which may explain why there were fewer spectators than usual for today’s arguments.
These sketches are of the first argument, Henderson v. U.S., concerning a felon’s attempt to transfer ownership of a gun collection that as a result of his conviction he was no longer allowed to possess. Tony Henderson, who pleaded guilty to marijuana distribution, asked that the firearms, which had no part of his crime, be sold to a friend or transferred to his wife. The government refused, of course, pointing out that such a close connection to the recipient amounted to “constructive possession“.
Henderson’s lawyer, UVa law professor Daniel Ortiz, began his argument stating that his client was willing to have the guns sold by a federally dealer, though that was not his preference. That seemed fairly reasonable and straight forward to me – hey, even a non-lawyer like me might be able to follow this argument. But then they pulled out the scalpels and started dissecting the meaning of possession, forfeiture, due process, dominion and takings. “Well, it’s a kind of complicated transaction . . . , Your Honor”, responded Ortiz to a question from Justice Kagan.
For its part, the government was okay with letting a dealer sell the guns. But when it came to who picks the dealer the lawyer for the government faced some tough questions, especially from Scalia.
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My contribution to 2776: The Album. You may have seen the liner notes in last week’s New Yorker or heard Neko Case’s track, “These Aren’t The Droids”.
My sketch of a panel discussion hosted by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press on transparency – read cameras – in the Supreme Court that took place at The National Press Club this morning.
The panel, from right to left, was composed of Alan Morrisson, Pete Williams, Neal Katyal, Maureen O’Connor, Ken Starr and moderator Tony Mauro. They all pretty much agreed – with a teeny bit of reservation from Katyal – that cameras are inevitable and belong in the Supreme Court.