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Arrival in Cincinnati

Art Hale,
ACLU of Michigan
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January 31, 2007


1/30/07 – Arrival in Cincinnati

We mushed southward under an ice-crystal hazed sun frozen in place by the single digit temps. The rural Ohio landscape imitated a frozen tundra, complete with drifts of snow and the grey-brown color palette of dormant vegetation.

We were headed from Detroit to Cincinnati to witness, more than anything, a moment in history. As a third year law student, I estimated that by now I have read hundreds of cases. I wondered if I would now be witnessing a case which may be read by future law students years from now.

The NSA wiretapping case argued before the 6th circuit is the highest judicial proceeding I would witness to date. It is a major battle, between titanic players in a gladiator-type arena. The ACLU and the US Government would battle before three of the 6th Circuit judges – Gilman, Batchelder, and Gibbons. My fellow interns and I were to be mere flies on the wall, straining to keep up, understand, and helpless to contribute with our faltering legal skills.

We learn and learn and learn, yet we still have so many questions, miss so many nuances, and still get tripped up be so much procedure. It is nerve wracking to see these lawyers seemingly so calm and good at what they do. I wonder how long it will take for me to feel that way…

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