Hat tip to Adam Liptak
It’s 9:30, Monday morning, the last week in June.
I’d been up before the sun, checking notes, organizing drafts, thinking through possible ledes.
I’d flushed out arguments, read analyses, checked in with experts.
I’d followed the U.S. Supreme Court since the term opened in October, and knew what cases remained for decision before the justices would take off for their summer breaks.
At this point they’d be the blockbusters: high profile, controversial and likely to lead several opinions within one ruling.
Plenty of folks have seen the clips of young clerks racing down the high court steps to distribute opinions. Anticipation is high.
Thanks to the award-winning SCOTUSblog, those of us covering the court from afar would know that on this particular morning, orders in cases where the parties are seeking court review are coming at 9:30 and opinions at 10.
And because on this particular week opinions are only scheduled for release on Monday, we’d know that rulings on remaining cases were almost certainly coming at 10.
So there I’d sit, knee bouncing to settle my nerves as I kept refreshing my computer screen.
I knew what came next: announcement of an order or decision and then a quick tweet to pass along what SCOTUSblog was reporting.
Then, as soon as it pops on the screen, I’d scan the opinion, first for the ultimate ruling and next to determine context. How did each justice rule, and on what grounds?
If I’d done my job right, I’d then be able to go to my drafts and fill in the detail for clear and accurate summaries to release to readers, following up with more detail and analysis during the day.
It was a familiar drill during the several years I was fortunate to cover the courts while writing in North Carolina.
And one I miss. The build-up and then climax during this last week always energized me.
And technology made it much easier for those of us not sitting in Washington.
I was in the emergency room having my ankle x-rayed after a running accident when the high court released its opinion holding that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional in 2013. To my surprise, the technicians let me bring my laptop into the x-ray room, though they had to do a repeat when I jumped up after the news broke.
Yesterday morning, I followed along wistfully and yet still anxious, anticipating the court activity but knowing that I wouldn’t be writing about it.
So I turned to veteran Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak of the New York Times for coverage instead, as I knew he wouldn’t disappoint.
I had no doubt he had his drafts already roughed out and would as always post quick, clear and reliable stories on the high court news to come.
Though he’s an expert on the court and has the resources of the Times behind him, Liptak is still a one-man band of sorts when it comes to timely reporting on decision days.
That said, by noon Liptak already had these five stories up on the Times website, updated after throughout the day:
The high court agreed to hear the president’s appeal of the Muslim travel ban, allowing portions of his order to go into effect in the interim.
The court also agreed to hear an appeal, after a record-setting 14 relists, concerning a Colorado baker’s refusal to create a wedding cake for a gay couple, citing his religious beliefs.
The court refused yet again to hear a gun rights challenge, this time in a case involving California’s strict ban on carrying concealed weapons in public.
The court ruled that a state cannot deny playground grant money (for rubber safety matting) to a church-affiliated preschool if it offers the same funds to the public at large.
- The court ruled that states cannot discriminate against gay couples when listing parents on birth certificates.