U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS artist acknowledges boredom even as he finds argument nuggets; Ginsburg neckwear chronicled


For those people who preferred comic books to text without pictures in grade school, there’s a Supreme Court website that may be of interest.

CourtArtist.com features the sketches of courtroom artist Art Lien, with brief descriptions of the cases and links to coverage. He was there when Justice Clarence Thomas spoke in court. He was also there the day of another development not covered in the traditional media: In oral arguments on Nov. 26, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not wearing her traditional white lace collar. “She appeared to be wearing a sparkly necklace of dark crystals,” he reported. “I couldn’t quite make it out.”

Lien told the Archetype Me website he sketches the U.S. Supreme Court for NBC News. “It can be really boring,” he admits. “I’m drawing the same scene over and over—the same justices, even the same lawyers.” Sometimes he has some fun with his drawings, depicting Justice Antonin Scalia as a lion, for example, or Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wielding an ear of corn.

Often when NBC sends Lien to the court, the story never makes it to the Nightly News, he says. “It’s terrible to have all these drawings that you just stuff in your drawer, so at least I can put them up somewhere and get a little feedback,” he tells Archetype.

Lien has also covered several high-profile cases, including the Jerry Sandusky trial and courtroom proceedings for several accused terrorists. But he says there is less work available because more courts are allowing cameras. “I regularly get emails from young artists who want to get into the field, and I try to discourage them because there isn’t much work,” he says.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “SCOTUS Notebook: The Mechanics and the Art of Court Decisions”

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