Supreme Court to Lawyers: Stand in Line Yourselves

by Pete Williams /  / Updated 

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The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow Monday to well-heeled lawyers who employ others to hold a place for them in the line to hear courtroom argument.

No more of that.

"Only bar members who actually intend to attend argument are allowed in line for the Bar section; 'line standers' are not permitted," the court said Monday, announcing a change in policy.

Two lines form outside the court on days of high-profile oral argument. One is for the general public.

Check in for lawyers, who sit in a separate section for members of the Supreme Court Bar, begins at 8:30 am. But their line often forms long before that.

On days of inclement weather, standing in line as early as 6 am to guarantee a spot in the courtroom can be unpleasant enough to warrant hiring someone else to do it.

Though the court ended that practice today, it did not do so for members of the general public. The court's rules regarding the public line say simply: "Please do not hold a space in either line for others who have not yet arrived," but they do not explicitly ban hiring someone to hold a place.

So the little-known temporary job of line-stander still has a potential Supreme Court market.

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