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Activists on Both Sides of Abortion Issue Join in Seeking Seats at Arguments With

April 22, 1992

Activists on Both Sides of Abortion Issue Join in Seeking Seats at Arguments With PM-Scotus-Abortion

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Activists on both sides of the abortion issue joined today in a single pursuit - achieving a coveted seat in the ornate Supreme Court hearing room for historic one-hour arguments on a restrictive Pennsylvania abortion law.

There were no reported incidents as more than 200 people stood, sat or slept during a wait that for some lasted more than a day.

″This one was so historic it was worth making the trip,″ said Nancy Kassop, 42, who traveled with her 15-year-old daughter, Allison, from their home in Allendale, N.J., for the arguments.

They arrived at 11 a.m. Tuesday to become the third and fourth people in line for the 100 or so courtroom seats reserved for the public.

Kassop, who teaches constitutional law at the State University of New York at New Paltz, said that ″aside from the importance of the issue, it’s important for me to see the dynamics inside the courtroom, to hear the justices, what questions they ask.″

Her daughter, who also came for the April 5 abortion-rights march in the nation’s capital, said ″the case really concerns me for the future.″

Todd Elmer, 20, of Winter Park, Fla., a pre-law student who opposes abortion, said he waited through the night because ″this is going to be a historic decision. It’s a chance to witness constitutional history.″

People wanting to sit in on the hour-long arguments began lining up Tuesday morning, 25 hours before the arguments were to start, and waited through a steady rain Tuesday night before Supreme Court police allowed the crowd of about 100 into a basement corridor for the night.

About 5 a.m. the rain had tapered to a drizzle and those who had been given shelter were outside again, waiting under umbrellas.

Carol Urich of Chevy Chase, Md., was the first person in line for a seat, though her wheelchair prevented her from waiting with the others on the marble plaza leading into the court building. She arrived outside the court building at 9 a.m. Tuesday to secure her place.

″I’m very much pro-choice,″ she said. ″I think it’s very important for a woman to retain control of her own body, without asking permission from a man.″

James A. Hogan, 26, an unemployed lawyer who just moved to Washington from Cleveland, arrived at 11 a.m. to become the second in line.

″Life is the most basic human right,″ said Hogan, a graduate of Notre Dame University’s law school who said he opposes abortion.