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Preparation pays off with dominant coverage of Supreme Court ruling on Texas abortion law

In this June 8, 2021 photo, with dark clouds overhead, the Supreme Court is seen in Washington. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

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Senior Supreme Court reporter Mark Sherman had prepared extensively for the court’s closely watched decision on Texas’ controversial abortion law. When the decision came down — leaving the highly restrictive law in place but allowing abortion clinics to challenge it in the courts — he had a story on the wire so quickly that he turned the universally covered case into a virtual AP exclusive.

While working on another assignment,Sherman had done the exhaustive prep work that is his calling card, drafting alerts on all the possible scenarios in the Texas case that precedes the court’s expected ruling on whether to retain 1973’s landmark Roe vs. Wade decision.

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At left, protesting against Texas Senate Bill 8, which would ban most abortions in the state, Cindy Gomez of Austin wears a “handmaid” costume during the Women’s March ATX rally at the state capitol in Austin, Oct. 2, 2021. At right, David Trujillo holds a sign outside an abortion provider in Dallas, Oct. 7, 2021. – AP Photos / Stephen Spillman (left); LM Otero

With the skill,grace and temperament of an accomplished lawyer appearing before the Supreme Court,Mark manages to make the complex understandable, the impenetrable decipherable and the urgent written with elegance and depth.”

— Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Michael Tackett

With the speedy assists of the Washington desk’s Eileen Putman and Robert Furlow,the result was an alert that went out a staggering 24 minutes ahead of major U.S. newspaper competitors and cable news channels.

AP dominated the competitive play: By the time a few news outlets had alerted the decision,Sherman had gone through three writethru versions and was ready with a thoughtful analysis. Other outlets were still reading the decision.

For outstanding coverage on one of the most sensitive and difficult breaking news jobs in the AP,writing with accuracy and speed on a court decision that could change the country’s arc on the right to abortion, Sherman is AP’s Best of the Week — Second Winner.

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