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SCOTUS Says No to Professional Line Standers

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. | Last updated on

SCOTUS has finally put down its foot: line standers will no longer be permitted at the nation's highest court. From now on, only the attorneys who actually intend to bring arguments before the Court will be permitted to stand in line of the bar section.

This is really bad news for anyone who made his living by offering his time to stand around SCOTUS. It turns out law firms pay big bucks for proxies to stand in line -- including the homeless -- for prices going for up to $6,000 an hour. Yes, that's what I said. Line standing is a business model.

Non-Judicial Binding Opinion: No Proxies

The Court actually stated "'line standers will not be permitted," essentially cutting the local economy of many underemployed down at the knees. There are other losses too. Many law students have earned their chops spending their internships doing their boss's bidding and standing outside SCOTUS in order to ensure their firm's place to argue. Talk about a first hand learning experience.

The court was quick to emphasize that this ban does not apply to the general public, but only to attorneys and firms who seek to actually bring oral arguments before the Court. This perhaps is a move that is meant to also address the ethics of the practice.

In recent years, the practice of line standing had been expanding, most notably with prices peaking in time with same-sex arguments before the nine justices. However, it appears that this comes amidst a real need to get a handle on the numbers. Demand to get in to see oral arguments is intense and SCOTUS has a maximum capacity of 400. Increasingly, public access to the court suffers as hired stand-ins get seating. Thus, even though line standing has so become part of the visual of the Supreme Court, it has come to an end.

It could be the case that the nation's High Court has finally decided to put the brakes on a lawyer tactic that it sees as increasingly tantamount to scalping tickets at the ball game.

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