When To Show Up to Get a Seat for DC v. Heller?:
Several people have contacted me expressing interest in attending the oral argument on March 18 in the Supreme Court's Second Amendment case, DC v. Heller, and wondering when they should show up to get a seat. Just in case others might be thinking about this, I thought I would blog my response.

  First of all, let me point out the obvious that no one really knows the answer. I'm just guessing when people might show up, and when people show up depends in part on their guesses as to when other people might do the same. With that said, I would guess that the line will fill up for Heller earlier than for any other argument in recent years (and perhaps ever).

  This is true for a few reasons. First, millions of Americans have tremendously passionate feelings about their rights to own guns. Second, Heller is the extremely rare case in which the Justices are essentially writing on a clean slate: There is almost no relevant precedent at all here, which means that the Court may set the basic terms of the debate. Third, this has otherwise been a very quiet Supreme Court Term. Heller is the most significant case being argued this Spring, making this the hot ticket.

  What does this mean in terms of how early you need to show up? In recent years, the public line for blockbuster cases has tended to fill up sometime the night before. For example, in the Grokster case in 2005, the public line filled up around 10pm the night before (more here); in the Boumediene case this past fall, about 50 people camped out over night. In light of this, I wouldn't be surprised if some people get in line a full day or even more before argument time. I don't know how many people will try this, but the Supreme Court's courtroom is pretty small. If you really want to make sure you get a seat, it's probably a good idea to think of showing up in the middle of the day the day before the argument. My guess is that showing up that night won't work. That's my best guess, at least.

  Finally, remember that the oral argument audio will be released shortly after the argument ends. You might still want to go just for the experience, but if you don't make it you can hear the argument about an hour later from your computer.