Behind the Lens: When the President Heard the News of the Supreme Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act

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President Obama receives the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office, June 25, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President was in the middle of his daily briefing on Thursday when Brian Mosteller, the director of Oval Office operations, abruptly opened the door at 10:10AM.

Knowing a series of Supreme Court decisions were pending, I instinctively switched to my camera with a telephoto lens to zoom in on the President. Brian told the President that, in a 6–3 decision, the Court upheld a critical part of the Affordable Care Act, preserving affordable coverage for millions of Americans.

For one split second, the President’s face was blank as if he was trying to comprehend the news. He then reacted in jubilation.

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President Obama reacts as he is told of the ACA decision. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President wanted to seek out some other staff members. As he walked into the Outer Oval Office, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was waiting for him. They exchanged hugs and fist-bumps.

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The President interrupts the Presidential Daily Briefing. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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Denis McDonough welcomes the President in the Outer Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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McDonough congratulates the President. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The briefing soon resumed until the Vice President joined the meeting. He and the President exchanged congratulations.

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Vice President Biden congratulates the President as he joins the resumed Presidential Daily Briefing. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

White House counsel Neil Eggleston and Deputy Chief of Staff Kristie Canegallo interrupted the briefing to congratulate the President and to further explain the details of the decision.

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The President hugs Kristie Canegallo as the Vice President hugs McDonough. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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Neil Eggleston, Counsel to the President, joins the group in the Oval. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As they were talking, I noticed that the clock in the Oval Office still read 10:10am. But it was actually almost 10:30am.

So, when the briefing finally ended, I asked Denis McDonough to come back into the Oval Office and showed him the clock stuck at 10:10am. I then showed him the back of my camera, where he could see the photo of the President first being told about the decision. The camera time read 10:10am.

What a coincidence on a historic day.

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The Obama White House

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This account will be maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and will serve as an archive of Obama Administration content.

The Obama White House

Written by

This account will be maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and will serve as an archive of Obama Administration content.

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