News & Politics

Insomnia Cookies, Picnic Blankets: Waiting in Line for Trump’s Supreme Court Case

Dozens of prospective attendees—mainly students—camped out overnight.

Photograph by Arya Hodjat.

It was 10 PM on Wednesday, and Paul Rampersaud had just finished his homework when his roommate asked him if he’d like to go out that night—to the Supreme Court.

Rampersaud, a University of Illinois student interning at the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, was one of dozens of people queued up outside the nation’s highest legal authority Thursday morning, hoping for an in-person chance to hear oral arguments about whether or not former President Donald Trump should be granted immunity for attempting to reverse his 2020 election loss. The court reserves 50 spots for the general public to hear oral arguments, and seating begins at 9:30 AM each morning.

The former President wasn’t attending the proceedings, but that didn’t stop prospective attendees, like Rampersaud, from sprawling out and sleeping overnight on the sidewalk adjacent to the court. Dressed in his Sunday best—he planned on going to work afterward—Rampersaud described the line as “a great melting pot of different students from around the country.”

“We ordered some Insomnia Cookies, some pizza,” he said. “We’re all interested in the law and justice.”

American University students Alli Templeton and Isabella Rijos said that they’d also slept on the sidewalk overnight, sharing a picnic blanket for warmth. It wasn’t their first time waiting in line for a Supreme Court case—they’d tried to get inside the chamber for the Court’s arguments on the Texas “heartbeat bill” restricting abortion access, but mixed up their dates and ended up attending a case on easements, Templeton said.

“It was freezing cold, it was raining,” Rijos recalls. “We all got pneumonia after.”

Templeton, a student in American University’s public affairs school, skipped three classes to attend Thursday’s hearing, but said her professors were understanding once she let them know why.

“One of my professors told me he would be upset if he saw me in class today,” Templeton said.

Ethan Bassett, a law student at American University, also slept there overnight, noting he’d left the line and walked the near-mile to Union Station to use the bathroom, since everything else downtown had closed.

“I met a lot of people,” Bassett said. “To do this and to be here, you have to have a certain level of enthusiasm that we all share, which I think has been a cool community thing.”

Alex Wolf, a policy researcher, was at the front of the line, having waited for 15 hours. To entertain himself, the former University of Minnesota law student printed out case briefs, discussing them and the news of the day with his linemates.

“It hasn’t been boring at all,” Wolf said.

Izzy Montini, an undergraduate at American University, said she’d been on the Hill since 9 AM on Wednesday. She woke up “freezing” on Thursday morning—but still in good spirits.

“This is exactly why I came to school in DC,” Montini said. “But I probably won’t be doing this again.”

Arya Hodjat
Editorial Fellow