Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sleepover at the Supreme Court

Concrete is likely no one's ideal pillow, but many roughed it as they spent the night outside the Supreme Court in Washington D.C., Monday, March 1. This article by Adam Liptak for The New York Times entitled "Tailgating Outside the Supreme Court, With the Cars" provides the story of those wanting to "sit her and see law being made" (in the words of Larken Euiss, second in line). Over the course of approximately 26 hours, people joined the line to witness the open arguments in the case of McDonald v. Chicago, though ultimately only 75 people would be granted entrance. The trial will be examining the constitutionality of the Chicago handgun ban according to the Second Amendment, which is the right to bear arms.

From an editorial perspective, I really enjoyed the creativity of this piece, especially in regards to the angle. The journalist, Adam Liptak, did a great job of "finding the story" within this topic. He introduced readers to those in line and revealed their motivations for being there without going any further into the politics of the trial itself. While I enjoyed the piece, I wish he would have included a brief paragraph on the case itself. Though Liptak, obviously, was trying to avoid the typical trial story, he mentions the case name, McDonald v. Chicago, once and provides no other information. The only clue I saw was the description of Robert Cumberland's button. Readers benefit from a brief background reminder, especially for legal matters.

From a 20s perspective, I appreciated the amount of detail within the piece. Liptak filled readers in on what time things took place over the course of the 26 hours and what people did to pass the time. The piece reads more like a narrative than a journalistic story due to Liptak taking on the role of omniscient narrator. It is obvious that he was "lingering with intent" (in the words of one of my journalism professors), because he knew why a person's hair was blue, what book the high schoolers were reading and heard the retort of the court police. He made the piece more about the people than the trial, and I will readily admit to rereading the piece several times seeking out all the detail. The only thing missing was what kind of pizza they ate.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Well I got to say that it is an interesting angle on a major story. But you have done exactly what Liptak did. Told us nothing about the trial, who was evolved, in more detail, and who won. At least provide us with information on where we can read a story about the case. Can I or can I not rob a McDonald's in Chicago at dawn with a butter finger in my pocket?