6:04 p.m. ET, February 8, 2024
Inside the court: CNN reporter describes her experience in the press pen
While dozens of journalists are inside the courtroom at the Supreme Court, not one laptop or cellphone is.
Unlike campaign events – which I usually cover ��� inside the Supreme Court, no electronics are allowed. Just pen and paper.
Even the smallest sounds can be heard, like someone jingling keys — or papers shuffling, as I discovered, as my case preview pamphlet slid to the floor.
An area for the press exists to the left of the bench, and good views are not guaranteed. Rows F and G are partially obstructed by large marble columns draped in red curtains with gold trim. The spaces between the columns are open, and depending on your vantage point, slices of the courtroom are visible.
From where I was sitting in seat G-1, I had a nearly perpendicular view of the justices, in sight of Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.
While Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson were a little harder to see. Sitting up tall in my seat or moving only my head slightly to the left helped to determine who had the floor, as well as their recognizable voices.
You cannot switch seats, move your seat or lean your body over for a better glimpse, which I learned quickly.
Shifting my chair over an inch didn’t go unnoticed by staff monitoring the press, as I was asked to shift it right back.
Press may exit the courtroom during arguments, but once you leave, you cannot return. Several reporters, however, left before the case was submitted — at least one person after Trump attorney Jonathan Mitchell’s time at the lectern and more after Jason Murray’s turn.
While silence is requested in the high court, there were moments of levity, where the justices made a comment that evoked laughter. One example was during an exchange between Mitchell and Kagan.
Mitchell acknowledged to one of her points, “There certainly is some tension and some commentators have pointed this out. Professor Baude and Professor Paulsen criticized Griffin’s case very sharply…”
Kagan kindly interrupted, “Then I must be right,” as people laughed.
Another moment of laughter surrounded the order of specific questions. Kagan jumped in as Jackson pivoted to another point about the officer/office debate: “Could we — is that OK if we do this and then do that? Will there be an opportunity to do officer stuff or should we–?”
“Absolutely. Absolutely,” Roberts said, diffusing the confusion, as people laughed.