Here is a cut-and-paste of an email I just received from my colleague who attended today's oral argument. Unfortunately, I just couldn't make the trip from Montreal what with classes beginning and my travel exhaustion (and $ exhaustion!) from my previous extensive European travels...
"While it's still fresh in my mind, I thought I'd send you all an email about the oral argument this morning. First of all, it was awesome! I got to the Supreme Court at 4 a.m. and I was the first one in line. The Police Officer guarding the steps told me that only crazy people show up that early when it's 10 degrees out. Luckily, a Georgetown Law student showed up about 10 minutes after me so I had company. His mission is to be the first in line to every oral argument this year. ... (He was mad that I beat him.)
"Anyway, once I got in the building and defrosted, things got very exciting. I ran into Jacquelyn in the bathroom! She asked me if it is always this cold in D.C. and I had to refrain myself from saying something stupid about the case. She had an entourage of about 20 relatives, but A.J. and Timothy were nowhere in sight. The Court first heard arguments for United States v. Comstock. The arguments were a little hard to follow since I knew very little about the case. The petitioner accidentally referred to Justice Scalia as "Chief Justice Scalia" and then Roberts made a snarky comment - so that was pretty entertaining.
"After Comstock, a bunch of people left so the ushers moved me to the front and center of the first row of the reserved seats. So I had an excellent view of Justice Thomas falling asleep throughout the whole thing. Timothy's side actually divided up the argument between two lawyers. The first was a young woman who appeared to be extremely nervous. Justice Breyer immediately bombarded her with a difficult hypothetical and she answered the question very poorly. After about 20 minutes of cringing, the second lawyer began to speak. At first I thought that she was the lawyer for Jacquelyn, and I was scratching my head as to why she was arguing that Timothy had rights of custody. The second lawyer (who was much better than the first) basically spent the remaining 10 minutes cleaning up the first lawyer's mess. I have NO IDEA why they divided the argument. As for Jacquelyn's lawyer, he was clearly a professional. He knew every detail of the case inside and out, and was eloquent and convincing. Justice Sotomayor spoke up a bit, but not to the extent that I thought she would given her dissent in Croll. In fact, I was surprised that none of the U.S. case law came up in the arguments. Toward the end, the justices began to inquire about foreign case law. I was impressed with the lawyer at this point because despite pressure from the Court, he refused to admit that the foreign case law was not on his side. Most of all, I was impressed by how similar the arguments were to our oral arguments. I expected the arguments to be above and beyond more advanced/challenging than ours, but they weren't."