On Monday, the Supreme Court finished issuing its decisions for the year, overturning Texas' abortion law and overturning former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell's corruption conviction. In these times, there's a race to get these decisions on air expediently -- and it is quite literally a race: the annual running of the interns.
When the printed decisions are literally handed out in the press room in the Supreme Court, these aspiring young journalists grab them and sprint the 0.10 mile from the Supreme Court press room to the building's front steps, where the on-air reporters are waiting to go on air.
In 2016, the interns helped relay 13 decisions, over three separate mornings, from chamber to television screen. The most hotly anticipated were the decisions on affirmative action, immigration and abortion.
Here's what two of CBS News' summer interns, John Bat and Greg Briker, had to say about their participation.
Summer intern Greg Briker:
Just outside the Supreme Court, beyond its large marble plaza, scores of protesters gather in the morning, waiting to hear news of potentially landmark decisions. The TV news crews assemble next to them, their correspondents ready to go on-air and report the ruling at hand.
On a decision day, we make our way through security and line up outside the Court's press officers, where credentialed producers, bloggers and print writers camp out in their assigned cubicles. Once the justices begin reading a decision in the closed courtroom upstairs, paper copies are handed out to the press.
From there the frenzy begins. Producers struggle to snatch a copy and quickly get it to their interns. Because we aren't credentialed, we're forced to wait in the hallway outside the press room. We were warned not to run while still inside the building, or risk drawing the ire of the court's police force.
A brisk walk down the hall takes us to an exit on the left side of the court. Outside the door, interns burst out and pick up speed, rounding the corner onto the building's iconic plaza. At this point, it's hard not to look up and take in the scene: protesters, media and members of the public observing the spectacle. The marble plaza can be slippery, but prepared interns have put on running shoes for optimal traction. The end of the run is the most treacherous leg, as interns must go down the steps and slip between camera crews to deliver the opinions. John and I both luckily made it through unscathed, and got the documents to our correspondents, and then watched as they reported the news.
Summer intern John Bat:
My buddy, Greg, got all three major decisions. I was ready to run at least one of the three major decisions, but I ended up with the less newsworthy ones. My Nikes, however, were still all cleaned and ready to go just in case I did get handed a major decision. It brought Pheidippides to mind, and that first marathon with the news delivered in Athens at the end of the run. Of course this was roughly 1/262 of his run, and we were hoping not to drop dead at the end of it. But otherwise, just like that.
It was a matter of chance, and Greg happened to get all of the big ones -- the ones you really sprint for and break a little sweat in the mid-morning sun. I have to say, Greg is clearly born to run. He was able to get the ruling out first to CBS News' Chief Legal Correspondent Jan Crawford and legal analyst Ilya Shapiro for the Whole Women's Health ruling before the rest of the interns even left the press room (CBS News' Jenna Sawkwa was also able to nab the decision from the press office earlier than just about anyone). He knew he won the race.
For good measure, I sprinted for my assigned ruling last week, on Mon., June 20. It was great to see just how the crowd outside the building reacted depending on my set of pace. Everyone, including the protesters, stared at the interns, trying to figure out whether if a big decision was coming, based on how urgent our pace seemed.
I was surprised by the interest in the running -- my grandfather called to tell me my picture was in the Washington Post the next morning. The run was a real rush, thrilling, even.
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