Timothy Egan, a New York Times reporter for 18 years before turning into a liberal blogger at nytimes.com, demanded in a Wednesday night posting that the next Supreme Court justice hail from a law school other than Harvard or Yale: "Supreme Club."
At last count, there were about 200 law schools in the United States accredited by the American Bar Association, but apparently only two of them -- Harvard and Yale -- can be a path to serving on the highest court in the land.Fair enough. But he goes off the rails claiming that Stevens, who has held down the liberal wing of the court for years, is actually a moderate. In fact, Egan seems to go further than even liberal former Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse in bizarrely claiming that there are no liberals on the court, just four moderates, balanced, presumably, against five conservatives! This on a court that includes, besides Stevens, former ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
It was surprising enough to see that with the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, the Supreme Court will not have a single Protestant among its black-robed elite. But equally jaw-dropping was the fact that without Stevens, every member of the court has attended Harvard or Yale law school.
Stevens, one of four moderates on the Court, has held that seat. He is not just the last World War II veteran to serve, but as a product Northwestern University Law School, he succeeded a very iconoclastic justice, William O. Douglas, whose law school days were not spent in Cambridge or New Haven.After a pro forma crack about Sarah Palin, Egan alleged that today's "extreme" conservative Supreme Court has "done lasting damage to the democracy," especially by its recent ruling expanding free speech by loosening restrictions on campaign advertising.
I'm not sure just how much attention the rights of an average citizen get in legal seminars at Harvard and Yale, but judging by the majority voting block on the current court, very little. This court, activist conservative in the extreme, has never met a corporation it has not coddled, nor a prosecution argument that does not have superior merit. In criminal proceedings, the state is nearly always right, and in commercial matters those with the most power continue to prevail.
They've done lasting damage to the democracy, most recently with a decision that overturned nearly a century of legal thought and found that corporations are people too. Don't look for the Norman Rockwell painting representing this newfound right.
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.