TV News Organizations Prep Special Reports for Supreme Court Decision on Health Care Law

U.S. Supreme Court Building - H 2011
Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Supreme Court Building - H 2011

UPDATED: With a ruling looming Thursday, news outlets have also petitioned for permission to televise it.

With a Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act looming, cable and broadcast networks are readying special reports on a development that could have major implications for this year’s presidential election.

All three broadcast networks are preparing reports for the 10 a.m. hour on the east coast Thursday, when the Court is scheduled to release its next round of decisions. The first opportunity for a decision on the case was Monday, so networks had a dress rehearsal of sorts. The Court could also table the decision until next week.

The networks have decided to go big when the verdict comes — not merely offering quick news bulletins, but offering expanded coverage with some of their top news personalities. On CBS, Scott Pelley will anchor from New York with chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford and correspondent Wyatt Andrews at the Supreme Court. Face the Nation anchor Bob Schieffer and congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes will be on Capitol Hill with chief White house correspondent Norah O’Donnell from the White House.

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ABC News will have senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper and Nightline co-anchor and Supreme Court correspondent Terry Moran on hand in Washington.

NBC News will still be in the fourth hour of Today, which is anchored by Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford. But Matt Lauer or Ann Curry are expected to stick around to anchor coverage of the decision.

On CNN, Wolf Blitzer and John King will lead coverage from Washington with chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, senior legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin, congressional correspondent Kate Bolduan at the Supreme Court. Political analysts Gloria Borger, David Gergen, Jim Acosta and White House correspondent Jessica Yellin will provide reporting on the decision's impact on the election.

Media organizations have petitioned the Court to be allowed to televise the hotly anticipated decision. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press last week sent a letter signed by nearly 50 media outlets including ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC to allow live audio and video coverage of the decision. The high court has never allowed cameras in its chambers, but they did allow an audio feed for the 2000 decision that decided the presidential election. In resisting opening up its chambers to cameras, the Court has cited possible adverse impact on oral arguments among other concerns.

“I am aware that various members of the Court have expressed concern that live television coverage of its proceedings may negatively affect the character and flow of the back-and-forth discussion between attorneys and justices,” Reporters Committee executive director Lucy A. Dalglish said in the letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts. “But this interest is clearly not implicated when the proceeding at issue involves the summary of an opinion rather than the interaction at oral argument.”

In lieu of live video, the Reporters Committee has asked the Court to “at least consider immediate or, at a minimum, delayed release of audio recordings of the announcement.”

The networks have another reason to pay attention to the high court rulings: the judges are likely to also render a decision on the FCC’s power to regulate indecency on television and radio.

Email: Marisa.Guthrie; Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie