Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Trump's 14th Amendment

7:56 PM ET, February 8, 2024

Inside the courtroom: A CNN reporter recounts her experience in the press pen

From CNN's Kit Maher on the Supreme Court

While there are dozens of journalists inside the Supreme Court's courtroom, there is not a single laptop or cell phone.

Unlike campaign events – which I usually cover – inside the Supreme Court, no electronic devices are allowed. Just pen and paper.

You can even hear small sounds like someone flicking jingle keys—or, as I discovered, papers shuffling as my case preview pamphlet slides to the floor.

The area for the press is to the left of the bench, and good views are not guaranteed. Rows F and G are partly blocked by large marble columns covered with red curtains with gold trim. The spaces between the columns are open and, depending on your preference, pieces of the courtroom are visible.

From where I sat in seat G-1, I had a vertical view of the judges, as seen by Amy Connie Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanagh.

Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan and Katanji Brown Jackson were a little harder to watch. Sitting higher in my seat or moving my head slightly to the left helped determine whose floor it was and their recognizable voices.

You can't change seats, move your seat, or tilt your body for a better view, which I quickly learned.

Shifting my chair by more than an inch didn't go unnoticed by the press monitoring staff as I asked it to shift again.

The press can leave the courtroom during arguments, but once you leave, you can't come back. Several reporters, however, left before the case was presented — at least one person after Trump attorney Jonathan Mitchell was on the lectern and Jason Murray's turn.

There were moments when silence was demanded in the High Court, where the judges made some laughable comments. An example is the exchange between Mitchell and Kagan.

Mitchell concedes one of his points, “There is certainly some tension and some commentators have pointed this out. Professor Pott and Professor Paulsen have been very critical of Griffin's case…”

As the crowd laughed, Kagan sweetly interjected, “So I must be right.”

Another moment of laughter surrounded the series of specific questions. Kagan jumped in when Jackson jumped ahead to another point about the officer/officer debate: “Is it OK if we — do this and do that? Do you get or want to do official things?

“Of course. Absolutely,” Roberts said, spreading confusion as people laughed.

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