The view inside the Supreme Court. Nine high-backed chairs for the Justices, three chairs and a table facing them for each of the two parties to the case, and a lecturn in the center from which the attorneys plead their case. The bench seats are for visitors, with similar sets to the left and right out of the frame. My seat was in the second row on the right hand side, a function of how quickly I got my stuff in the lockers and got back out in line before we were led in. The wicker chairs in the foreground were placed to allow as many visitors as possible to this seminal case. The clock above the bench had a smooth-sweep second hand and when it hit 12 we were under way.
The view to the left rear of the Court, with more temporary chairs for guests.
The view to the right rear of the Court, with more temporary chairs. Some had a pretty poor view, with those grandiose marble pillars in the way at least partially. The lighting wasn't this good, I brightened the image.
The pack media were out in force the morning of the hearing.
The earliest began arriving in the dark, about 5 a.m.
They all jockeyed for space to get essentially the same shot.
Meanwhile, inside the Court on the ground floor at about 9 a.m. (one flight below the actual chambers), waiting for instructions to be led upstairs, I bumped into old friend John Snyder (on the left), lobbyist for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. We sell John's book, Gun Saint, at gunlaws.com, about a campaign to have the Pope recognize a patron saint of handgunning. He introduced me to someone he knew, who I had only heard of and never met before -- Dick Heller, the man this case is named after.
A friendly and unassuming gentleman, he told me the case had gotten way beyond anything he dreamed of, and that he was barely a part of it at this point. "I just want to be able to keep my guns," he said. When he went down the line at Hellertown, at 9:30 last night handing out cough drops to the crowd, no one knew who he was. He got a seat in the third row, just behind and to the left of me. I'm not that important. Shouldn't he have been in seat one, whatever that was?
The old extended-arm routine.
I was so glad I decided to wear a tie.
Bob Blackmer had come inside before the line was let in, to use the facilities and freshen up. His timing couldn't have been better, and he got to meet the man himself before he ran back out to be where he needed to be to gain access upstairs. We were all feeling good, excited that the day had finally arrived. You can see it in their faces.
Bob had done what it takes to get that lucky number 7.
Boy did he want to keep that card as a souvenir.
They took it, but he's got pictures.
Professor Joyce Lee Malcolm of the George Mason School of Law was there. Everybody was a somebody. It was heady stuff. I felt out of my league, but maybe this was my league. Her book on the British experience set the groundwork for significant advances in gun-rights theory.
Minutes before the lead-you-upstairs process began, my friend and Supreme Court Gun Cases co-author Dave Kopel (L) came rushing by, with Clark Neily of the Institute for Justice. These were Dick Heller's co-counsels. Dave had told me he would not be attending the case. Imagine my surprise (and his) when he was a last-minute addition to the Respondant's table seated right in front of the Bench. You couldn't pick a more brilliant ally.
Dan Schmutter got a few moments to chat with Prof. Malcolm after I introduced them. Dan and I met on the line waiting to get through the metal detectors. He wrote the amicus brief for JPFO, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, run by Aaron Zelman in Milwaukee. Despite the Jewish history of persecutions, pogroms and their chant of "Never Again!" the Jewish community in general is surprisingly liberal and staunchly against gun rights. It makes no sense to some observers. The JPFO brief focused on how firearms ownership is a deterrent to genocide, and how disarmament of civilian populations is a thoroughly documented precursor to unthinkable massacres. Many authorities don't like to hear that.
The pack media, relegated and obediently confined to a corner of the property,
was on this story like white on rice. I saw the news photos afertwards.
They all pretty much took the same pictures, and congratulated themselves
on a job well done. None ran a picture of themselves fawning like this. Hey, that's not news, right? Notice the cop standing at the back in the center. There were hundreds of these "professionals," foreshortened by the only angle I could get. The cops (special Supreme Court Police) told me you can't go there if you're not media. Must have made these folks feel special as they all took the same photo and recorded the same bluster. I was wearing my 20-year Society of Professional Journalists pin, but I didn't press the point.
Somehow, five of us "brains" gravitated together and hung long enough for people to snap images, which are apparently all over the web. Jason McCrory (Mr. #1 in line) got one, posted it at AR15.com, and said these are somebodies but he didn't know who. L to R: Clayton Cramer, Alan Korwin, Bob Cottrol, Dave Hardy, Joe Olson. Google them for details, and prepare for a long read.
Cropped and lightened. Digital imagery still amazes me.
I was very slow to get off film. Friends say I'm a Luddite.
L to R: Dick Heller, Alan Gura, Bob Levy,
on the plaza in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Attorneys Alan Gura and Bob Levy, after the oral arguments in
D.C. v. Heller, March 18, 2008.
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