The Man Who Will Blog History. Lyle Denniston. by Isaac Matson

With an anticipated 250,000 followers, this man’s blog is expected to be the first to report tomorrow’s Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s healthcare law.

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court of the United States (#SCOTUS in Twitter speak) is expected to hand down its decision on the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare”. Until recently, many believed the law would be struck down entirely, but the unexpected ruling in the Arizona immigration case has cast some doubt on previous court predictions. Regardless of the outcome, the ADA ruling is set to join a group of famed Supreme Court rulings that include Marbury v. Madison, Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, and Roe v. Wade. One man will be the first to tell the world what the court has decided: Lyle Denniston.

According to a Washington Post profile, Lyle Denniston is an 81 year-old retiree who is responsible for the reporting on SCOTUSblog, a site that has been live blogging Supreme Court opinions for the past two years. Until recently, the site had a small readership of approximately 1,500. But court cases involving politically volatile issues like immigration and healthcare have led to an explosion in readership: 70,000 on Thursday; 100,000 on Monday. The site expects 250,000 to be tuned in tomorrow. Being the first to report Supreme Court rulings is Denniston’s passion. He told the Washington Post, “It’s our number one ambition to be the first and beat everybody.”

Denniston began court reporting in 1953, writing for the Wall Street Journal. He has covered the Supreme Court for literally decades, and is older than all the sitting Supreme Court justices. He has retired from court reporting twice. And returned twice. He simply loved his job too much. Denniston briefly left his court beat to help edit stories on the Watergate scandal. Missing the Roe v. Wade ruling was his biggest regret, according to the Washington Post. He told his boss that either he would be allowed to return to SCOTUS reporting or he would quit.

Electronic devices are not allowed in the Supreme Court press room, so after high profile rulings are handed down, there is a mob of reporters scurrying back to their computers to file reports. Denniston has an office at the court and will file his report with his editor via Skype.

Despite his reputation for the being the first to report court decisions in the age of Twitter and blogging, Denniston told the Washington Post that he is not a fan of technology.  

(Follow SCOTUSblog here