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By Ethan Wolff-Mann
October 7, 2015
People queue to enter the Supreme Court in Washington on March 25, 2013.
People queue to enter the Supreme Court in Washington on March 25, 2013.
Kamm, Nicholas—AFP/Getty Images

The controversial practice of paying others to hold your spot in line—typically for a chance at the latest iPhone at the local Apple store or some smoked meat at a famous barbecue joint—has now made its way to the Supreme Court.

No, the court’s nine justices haven’t made an official ruling on a case concerning the legality of professional line standers. Instead, as the court opened for its new term, it declared that “only Bar members who actually intend to attend argument will be allowed in the line for the Bar section; ‘line standers’ will not be permitted,” according to the Washington Post.

Even though Supreme Court Bar members get a fast-tracked line to watch the proceedings, that privilege apparently wasn’t good enough. Some have reportedly been paying $50 per hour for people to stand in the line for them, often arranged through companies that employ homeless people.

Though less than the $6,000 that some members of the general public paid to secure seats for the March 2013 same-sex marriage oral arguments, it was still enough to draw an official pronouncement. Given the current Court’s conservative leanings, it may not be surprising that members of the general public will still be able to spend an unlimited amount for Supreme Court line standers if they so choose: The new ban only applies to Supreme Court Bar members.

The demand for a seat in the courtroom isn’t just because the people prefer seeing a life-size Scalia, but rather because you can’t actually view or even listen to a Supreme Court case without being there—no taping of any kind is permitted.

Of course, this Supreme Court “ruling” has no legal effect beyond the Court’s visitors gallery, but companies with line problems like Apple may choose to follow suit.

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Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

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