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My Dad Presented a Case at The Supreme Court of The United States

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, Miranda v. Arizona – these were just a few of the iconic Supreme Court cases that I had to memorize a few years back in my AP US Government class. While learning about our political system, I distinctly remember my teacher telling us that less than 1% of cases are accepted to be heard before The Supreme Court. In fact, “according to statistics from the Supreme Court, between June 30, 2011 and July 2, 2012, the Court disposed of 7,654 appeals and granted 63 for oral argument” (Daily Writ). The Supreme Court is not only historically significant, but it is also the highest law of the United States. To have their case heard in front of the Supreme Court Justices is typically something that lawyers can only dream of. On April 20, 2016, this dream came true for my father for the first time. On January 17, 2018, it came true all over again.

Being that this was a once (or twice) in a lifetime opportunity, my family and I accompanied him both times. Just being in Washington D.C. was incredible, as I have always been so fascinated by our nation’s history. The exquisite neoclassical architecture of The Supreme Court took my breath away. I was captivated by the beauty of the Capitol building and the numerous historical monuments that decorate the city.

While in D.C., I accompanied my father as he worked with the United States Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, and the United States Solicitor General in preparation for submitting his case to the Supreme Court. I was exposed to some of the brightest and most influential lawyers in our country, and I got to see firsthand how they analyzed constitutional law and refined their arguments to be presented to the Supreme Court.

Then the day finally arrived. Without much sleep, my family and I awoke bright and early for the day my dad had been preparing for. Court began strictly at 10 AM, however, we were escorted to our seats much earlier. The historical significance of this moment and my surroundings was overwhelming. I took it all in: the architecture, the designs on the ceiling, and the, then, eight chairs awaiting the Supreme Court Justices. It was hard for me to grasp the fact that I was here. I was in the same room that so many life changing court cases have been presented in. I was in, perhaps, the most important room in the whole United States. It was surreal. 

At exactly 10 AM, the historical and political rituals began. The audience was directed to stand as all of the Supreme Court Justices appeared from behind the curtain and into their chairs. “The Honorable, the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court!” The gavel was struck, the audience was seated and court was in session.

On the days court is in session, the Justices hear two cases. So not only was I able to hear my dad’s case, but I was also able to hear the other case scheduled for that day. While listening to the oral arguments, I observed the Justices and their reactions. I listened as Justice Kagan asked questions and watched as Justice Thomas reclined back in his seat. I smiled as I remember my AP US Government teacher telling us about how Justice Thomas was known for sleeping during oral arguments. I could now confirm that statement! It was especially fascinating to be there while there were only 8 Justices, as Justice Scalia had passed away a few months prior. The second time my dad’s case was presented on January 17, 2018, I got to witness all 9 Justices, as Justice Gorsuch had been recently selected by President Trump. 

After the closing arguments, my family and I accompanied the legal teams as we all made our grand exit down the 53 marble stairs in front of the building. I stood on the top of the steps looking down, remembering all of the Supreme Court cases I had learned about. I thought about all of the life changing decisions that were born in this very building. I pictured all the legendary people that have walked down these steps, and recognized that at that moment, I was one of them.

A couple months later, the court released their decision, which was essentially that no decision could be reached. Instead, the Justices called for the case to be remanded, or sent back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, to have an issue be reexamined. After going through that process, which took a couple years, the case was, once again, petitioned to be heard before The Supreme Court. The petition was granted, and I got to witness this incredible experience for a second time, which was equally as exciting and fascinating as the first.

No history book or lecture could even begin to teach me what I had learned from these two trips. I got an up close experience of the US Government system in action. I gained a newfound appreciation and understanding of the Supreme Court that I would not have otherwise had. I fell in love with the beautiful city of Washington D.C. and gained an even greater interest in politics and law.

So thank you, Dad. Thank you for allowing your family to have this incredibly surreal experience. Thank you for not only telling me that with hard work anything is possible, but for showing me that, with hard work, anything is possible. Not many people can say that their father’s case was heard before The Supreme Court, and I will always be proud to brag about you. You have given me some massive shoes to fill as a future lawyer, and I am so proud to be your daughter.


If you are interested in reading more about my dad’s case, please click here.

Photo Credits: The Washington Examiner, Ars Technica, & Carly Steinberg

Carly is a features writer for Her Campus at UCLA. In her free time she loves to sing, write, and spend time with her friends and family. 
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