Anyone who has spent a night on the Supreme Court sidewalk waiting to get one of the golden tickets to see the court in action knows about the "line-standers."
They are the people who would rather get some sleep than geek out over constitutional law all night, the distinctly non-lawyerly types who do not tell you their names or where they are from, and -- most agitatingly -- the ones in front of you in line ruining your shot at an unobstructed view of the justices. Come sunrise on the morning of the big oral argument everyone is eager to see, the line-standers will be gone, replaced by alpha lawyers unbothered by the bitter comments and dirty looks of the bone-cold, rain-soaked, sunburned hoi polloi behind them.
But Oliver Gomes has a different side of the story.
As a foreman for LineStanding.com, Gomes arrived at the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon to check up on his charges. The line was already about 10 people deep for the health care cases that begin on Monday morning. Every person, save one, was paid to be there.
That's what America is all about, Gomes said. "The United States is built on business," he told HuffPost. "We provide a service as far as we are where we're supposed to be [and] we come professional. It's just like any other business." He wouldn't discuss his customers.
Line-standing, in fact, helped pull Gomes from a down-and-out time in his life. He was homeless and working as a bike courier for the company that runs the line-standing business when "one day they needed a person up here to hold down a spot," he recalled.
"That gave me a little hope, and I was able to build from that."
Certainly not every person involved in the line-standing business feels the same way. One stander near the front of the line who wouldn't give his name told HuffPost he was waiting so more patriotic people could take his place.
Gomes said he now sees his role as someone who can help bring the same hope living in Washington's shadows by having them dwell, for $20 and hour to $40 an hour, depending on the customer, in the shadows of the most majestic buildings of the capital city.
"Some people that I utilize as line-standers, they're American society, but they're not what people consider the mainstream," Gomes said. "I want everyone to feel like they're a part of this process in whatever type of way, as far as building this country and making it better."
Video produced by Sara Kenigsberg.
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