In his recent blog ("Making Headlines: The Law, Summer 2007"), CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen describes his midsummer night's dream of legal headlines he would "like to see, but probably won't." In the tradition of another more-famous CBS employee, Cohen lists his "top ten" legal headlines - a wish list with an obvious liberal slant.
Here are some of Cohen's headlines, along with the necessary translation.
When liberals aren't taunting conservatives with death wishes, they will often, under a guise of concern, talk of how hopefully this brush with fate will give the conservative a more humane, compassionate, less restrictive outlook on life (i.e., become a Democrat).
There's an undercurrent of that in New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse's "Supreme Court Memo," "Uncertainty Now in a Golden Youth's Trajectory," on Chief Justice John Roberts' seizure. Greenhouse evidently hoped that Roberts' brush with fallibility will soften the whiz-kid conservative's heart.
The recent additions of Justices Jonathan Roberts and Samuel Alito have admittedly changed the balance of power in the Supreme Court. It was inevitable that the Court would take a conservative turn. Equally inevitable was the media's hysterical reaction.
A narrow decision on partial birth abortion was described as reversing the precedent of Roe vs. Wade. A school zoning decision was touted by irresponsible commentators as having overturned Brown v. Board of Education. These decisions, and others, have led to personal attacks upon Roberts and Alito, as well as public pleas from legal analysts to the Court's new swing vote Justice Kennedy to "moderate" his position.
On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Pete Williams presented a one-sided look at the Supreme Court's "shift to the right," conveying complaints by liberals over recent court rulings, but without showing any conservatives who supported some of the court's recent right-leaning decisions. Williams began his piece by quoting liberal Justice Stephen Breyer's complaint that "It's not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much," before playing a soundbite of the ACLU's Steven Shapiro: "Civil liberties and civil rights took a beating virtually across the board from race to religion to abortion to speech to the basic right to come into court and sue when you've been a victim of discrimination." Williams also found that Chief Justice John Roberts "has turned out to be more conservative than even some of the court's liberals thought he would be." (Transcript follows)
The following is submitted by Jason Aslinger, a NewsBusters reader and a private practice attorney from Greenville, Ohio. Cohen pictured at right (file photo).
In his June 28 "Court Watch" article, CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen laments the
conservative bent of the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice John
Roberts. But rather than give readers sound legal critiques, Cohen sounds out a decidely political lament.
With a title like “Rightward Ho!” you might think that
Cohen would attack the Court’s conservative justices, and he
does, dismissing Justice Samuel Alito as a "rigid starboard-facing
ideologue" while he derides Chief Justice John Roberts as "silly and
Cohen lists several cases from the 2007 term in which, in Cohen’s
view, Justice Alito delivered the deciding vote. Cohen writes:
In its rush to paint yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that struck down an issue ad ban contained in the so-called McCain-Feingold Law, the Chicago Tribune described the case as a win for President Bush and the GOP, even though the Bush administration's lawyers lost the case in question and even though the case benefits liberal activist groups as much as it does conservatives. What's more, Bush's appointees to the court actually restrained the conservative majority from taking a bigger swipe at the campaign finance law.
Here's the lede from the Tribune staffer David Savage:
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court gave President Bush and Republican
leaders two important 5-4 victories Monday by clearing the way for
corporate-funded broadcast ads before next year's election and by
shielding the White House's "faith-based initiative" from challenge in
Oh really? President Bush signed the campaign finance bill into law, it was his Federal Election Commission that pleaded and lost the case, and he's not able to run again for reelection, yet somehow he won yesterday by virtue of his Federal Election Commission losing?
What's more, Republicans, conservatives, and business interests can certainly benefit from the change in the law, but so can Democrats, liberals, and labor unions, a point that the Washington Post's Robert Barnes picked up on in his reporting, which tracked favorable reaction from labor and business leaders:
CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen found the rulings from the Supreme Court today to be a boon for conservatives, but he couldn't resist hinting about his personal opinions about those cases. He didn't seem to agree with any of them. (emphasis mine):
Conservatives go 4-4 today at the Supreme Court
Let's stay with our baseball theme today.
and political conservatives hit for the cycle Monday morning when they
"won" four long-awaited rulings from the United States Supreme Court.
The Justices further chipped away at the wall that separates church and
state, took some of the steam out of the McCain-Feingold campaign
finance law, neutered federal regulators in environmental cases to the
benefit of developers and slammed a high school kid who had the
temerity to put up a silly sign near his high school.
As we all know, Andrea Mitchell having told us so, Chris Matthews is no liberal. However the Hardball host did emphatically state on this afternoon's show that, at least when it comes to health care, he agrees with Michael Moore.
Matthews had just aired an impromptu interview that MSNBC's David Shuster had snared with Moore when the filmmaker appeared on Capitol Hill today on the occasion of this week's release of his latest work, "Sicko," regarding health care in the United States. In both Shuster's depiction of Moore's views, and in Moore's own statements in the course of the interview, Moore made clear that he wants to eliminate private-sector participation in health care insurance.
As Shuster put it: "in this movie, Moore calls for the end, the end, of for-profit healthcare."
In the aired interview, Moore described private-sector insurers as a "racket" and said "I want private insurance companies out of the equation."
So how did Matthews react to Moore's call for the killing of private-sector health care?
HARDBALL HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: You know, I gotta agree with him on this stuff. I gotta agree with him. He's got a case. Healthcare in this country is not working.
Years ago, my great-aunt Annie Goodman was named Mother of the Year in New Hampshire. She was the mother of 13 children, and despite the family's very limited financial resources, saw to it that 12 of them made it to college and went on to be productive members of society. That's the kind of story that, in the good old days, the CBS Evening News might have featured on Mothers Day.
But times have changed. A lot. So where did the Evening News send its video bouqets during the Mother's Day edition? To the draft-Al-Gore movement, and to growers of eco-friendly roses.
NewsBusters' mission is that of exposing and combating liberal media bias, and that's what I spend the great majority of my time here doing. But I hope our readers -- and my editors -- will indulge me when I offer a bit of personal analysis here.
The outbreak of nastiness between the Obama and Hillary camps -- initiated by comments made by Obama supporter David Geffen and quoted by Maureen Dowd in her column today -- is stunning. For the Obama camp to come out this early -- and this hard -- against Hillary has riveted the attention of the political world.
For those who didn't catch it, David Geffen -- certified member of the liberal Hollywood elite, billionaire producer and co-founder of DreamWorks, and former avid and generous Clinton supporter and donor turned major Barack backer -- told Dowd:
"I don’t think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is — and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? — can bring the country together."
“I don’t think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person, [in terms of his personal proclivities] . . . I think [Republicans] believe she’s the easiest to defeat.”
Most damning was this: "Everybody in politics lies, but they [Bill and Hillary] do it with such ease, it’s troubling.”
"Nightline" host Terry Moran recently blogged about the dustup over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her request for a larger plane to fly back to her San Francisco district. In the February 8 entry, the ABC host criticized the Bush administration for leaking the story to "The Washington Times," whom he referred to as "a kind of house organ for conservatives." "The Washington Times" certainly leans right, but has Mr. Moran ever labeled "The New York Times" a mouth piece for liberals?
An excerpt of Mr. Moran’s blog is below:
After the 9/11 attacks, Speaker Hastert was, for security reasons, given ‘shuttle service’ by military transport to and from his congressional district in Illinois. This year, citing the same security concerns, the Sergeant at Arms of the House of Representatives asked the Department of Defense to provide a plane that could get Speaker Pelosi to and from her district in California--which would require a bigger and costlier plane than Hastert used.
What did the Bush administration do? Leak the story--to The Washington Times, a kind of house organ for conservatives in the capital. And sit back and watch the flap.
On Tuesday, jury selection began in the trial of Lewis Libby. And "Good Morning America" reporter Claire Shipman couldn’t resist spinning this occasion into an attack against President Bush. Libby, the former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. He does not, however, face prosecution for publically outing Wilson's wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame. However, through sloppy phrasing and omission, Shipman encouraged the assumption that this is yet another example of the Bush administration’s misconduct. The most brazen example is the GMA reporter’s description of the "original crime":
Claire Shipman: "Prosecutors are trying to show that Libby lied to investigators about conversations he had with reporters regarding CIA officer Valerie Plame, the undercover agent who was outed. Libby blames a faulty memory. And in classic Washington style, Libby isn't in trouble for the original crime, outing Plame, but, rather, the, quote, ‘the cover up,’ according to the prosecutor."
No government official has been charged with revealing the identity of Valerie Plame. So, how can there be an "original crime?"
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow appeared on Thursday’s "American Morning" in a feisty mood, ready to battle CNN’s liberal agenda. Co-anchor Miles O’Brien offered Snow a loaded question about Republican opposition to Donald Rumsfeld. The press secretary fired back by mentioning the cable network’s infamous "sniper video:"
Miles O’Brien: "The President with a show of support for Defense secretary saying he's doing a fantastic job. Let's go through this a little bit. Senators John McCain, Chuck Hagel, say they have no confidence in the Defense secretary. A couple of Republicans running right now, Tom Kean, Jr. in New Jersey, Chris Shays in Connecticut, saying Rummy should go. And the public, in general, has a fairly low opinion of him, about 35 percent right now. How does that all add up to a fantastic job?"
Tony Snow: "Well, I'll tell you, when was the last time, Miles, you guys reported on real support for Don Rumsfeld, or talking about the successes of the American forces in the battlefield? I know CNN has shown people getting shot. The question is --"
O’Brien: "Well, actually, no, no, no. We didn't actually show them. We did a report, which showed snipers, a propaganda film from insurgents showing sniper activity. We didn't show them being shot."
Snow "All right. I'm sorry, you blurred them out while the picture was showing them getting shot.
At the top of the lead story for Tuesday's New York Times, reporters Richard Stevenson and Neil Lewis put the onus on Bush’s Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito to show he’s not “too much of an ideologue.”
“Addressing concerns among Democrats that his past support for conservative positions makes him too much of an ideologue for a seat on the Supreme Court, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. began his public drive for confirmation Monday by saying judges should have no agendas or preferred outcomes of their own.”
Later, they make this claim to suggest Alito may find the vote rough going:
“But the biggest difference from the Roberts hearings may have been in the political climate. Since then, Mr. Bush has been weakened by the failed nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court, the continued bloodshed in Iraq and the corruption inquiries that have ensnared Republican lobbyists and members of Congress.”
Within seconds of President Bush finishing his announcement of Samuel Alito as the nominee to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, the CNN “American Morning” team was ready to attack and criticize this decision (video links to follow). First, Candy Crowley said, “I think what you're going to see is some disappointment that this is obviously a white male replacing a female, leaving just one female on the Supreme Court.”
Next up was Ed Henry:
“Candy is absolutely right. She set the stage perfectly. The word I'm hearing over and over from Democrats is ‘provocative.’ They basically say the president, A, did not consult with Democrats as he did with Chief Justice John Roberts, as he did before Harriet Miers was nominated. Also that they feel that Judge Alito is more conservative than they expected. They were hoping more of a consensus choice. This is already opening the door for Democrats to try to make the case that there are extraordinary circumstances here, i.e. that they may filibuster the nominee. That's why you heard the president immediately say that Judge Alito deserves an up or down vote. That is code for don't filibuster this nominee.”
On his nightly PBS talk show Monday, Tavis Smiley questioned John Edwards about the Harriet Miers nomination. Oddly enough, Edwards, who presumed he was ready to be President of the United States after being in the Senate about the same amount of time Miers was in the White House, suggested the big Miers issue was her lack of experience:
"I mean, the first question about her, of course, is that she has no record. Never been a judge, has no judicial experience. And that is certainly not disqualifying by itself, but what it means is that we don't know much about what her positions are. She has never written an opinion."
When Edwards said Senate Democrats will have to question her with vigor, Smiley wondered: "How vigorous do you expect them to be? There are some who would argue that they weren't terribly vigorous on Mr. Roberts, now the Chief Justice. And the Democrats split voting for the guy." Didn't they know they were supposed to vote 44 to 0 against?
Harlingen, Texas, September 30, 2005: By now it must be clear to those who follow political events that all factions liberal are chanting a new mantra. You can hear the words over and over again by any champion of the Left who has entry to print media, appears on television or moves in front of a radio microphone…”The Republicans are corrupt.” “The Republicans are criminal.” “The Republicans are in decline.” “The Republicans have failed the American public.”
There are other verses to the same song. Some of them speak to the dropping poll numbers of the President. Some address the poor choice of governmental appointments. Others point out the legal entanglements of conservative congressional leaders. In point of fact, the words don’t really matter as long as liberal elements in our society can continue painting their opposition as failing and falling into steep decline. To achieve this objective, a biased media appears to be a willing accomplice and ready to use any opportunity, no matter how distant, to continue the drum beat of doom.
The John Roberts confirmation story on the front page of today's Washington Post (by reporters Charles Babington and Peter Baker) jumps to page A4 with this sentence: "Among those opposing Roberts were presidential aspirants who typically veer to the center, but are now eyeing the liberal activist groups that will play key roles in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early-voting states in 2008. They included Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.), Joseph Biden (Del.), and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.)."
Sigh. Always consult your handy voting guide at acuratings.com for the real story about these allegedly veering centrists: Evan Bayh is the closest to the Post claim, with a lifetime ACU rating of 22 percent conservative. Joe Biden has a lifetime ACU of 14, and a zero for 2004. Hillary Clinton has a lifetime ACU of NINE, and a zero for 2004. Brent Baker always insists we be extra-fair and note the liberal Americans for Democratic Action ratings. Those can be found here. (For 2004, Bayh scored 90 percent liberal, Biden and Hillary were both at 95). So how do scores like these get described as "typical veering" to centrism? It's transparently inaccurate: anybody who votes with the liberals on nine out of ten votes should be described as typically veering to the left. This goes double for Hillary, who is best known for trying to sink the country under a massive socialist health care "reform" plan.
Despite John Roberts being confirmed today by a very strong 78-22 margin to be our nation's new Supreme Court Chief Justice, America Online (AOL) is blaring across its home page, "A Rough Week for Republicans."Here is the screen shot of AOL's home page from 3:31 pm PDT today (Thursday, September 30, 2005). According to AOL, the troubles of Senators Frist and DeLay are enough to signal a "rough week" for the Republican Party.
AOL also solicits viewers to vote in a poll asking, "Which Party Is Stronger Now?" Ugh.
Let's see: An overwhelming Supreme Court confirmation and very good news today about the nation's economy. Yeah, a really "rough week" ... (roll eyes). Nice try, AOL.
Yesterday the New York Times went all out on a memo that they said was written by John Roberts, echoed by the media establishment, saying "John Roberts shows deep hositility toward the press."
The critique was vigorous, brilliantly written and informed by a deep hostility toward the press, said Anthony Lewis, the author of "Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment" and a former columnist for The New York Times. "It's quite an astonishing document," Mr. Lewis said of the critique. "He's not a fan of the press. He speaks of 'the zeal and insouciance with which the mass media assails public officials.' " The Sullivan decision, the memorandum said, overstated the social value of the press. "Any assumption that media coverage of government institutions and public officials is the centerpiece of effective democracy," Mr. Roberts wrote, "is misplaced."
There's just one problem; Roberts didn't write it. Bruce Fein, a Washington lawyer wrote the memo. Oops. On a brighter note, for Bruce Fein, the New York Times said he writes brilliantly.
How could something like this happen?
Three people quoted in the article discussed the Fein memorandum, provided to them by a reporter, on the assumption that it had been written by Judge Roberts.
And we all know that the New York Times is a major player in the assuming game.
Hmm, which puff piece for liberal heroes (without actually stooping to use the word "liberal") would the typical reader of the Washington Post prefer in today's Style section? Would it be the Marcia Davis article about John Lewis, "civil rights icon," lecturing about John Roberts and his awful work for awful Ronald Reagan? He "offered the drama of history." His statement proclaimed predictably that Roberts would "reverse the hard-won civil rights gains that so many sacrificed so much to achieve," meaning that he might not recognize every precious bean-counting racial quota and reverse-discrimination advantage favored by the NAACP. He then says "We must go forward to the creation of one America," despite the constantly divisive rhetoric black liberals use, like the recent comparison of the Superdome to a slave ship or a concentration camp. Or....?
During PBS's coverage Wednesday of the Senate hearing with Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, analysts ridiculed the concern of some conservative Senators over the Supreme Court's recent eminent domain ruling and mocked the role of naive talk radio hosts. During a break at about 4:45pm EDT, Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant was befuddled by "the vigorous nature of this opposition to a rather mundane eminent domain case from New London, Connecticut, this Kelo thing. I mean, as you know, this issue has been around for decades, especially connected with urban renewal." New York Times columnist David Brooks pointed out that "talk radio exploded on this issue, and it was a big popular issue." That prompted NewsHour reporter Ray Suarez, host of the roundtable, to take a slap at talk radio: "Well, when eminent domain was remaking the face of cities across America, there really was no talk radio, and that may be a big change in the United States." Also, in his Tuesday column, Oliphant proposed that while Roberts may know the law, "there is almost no evidence of his understanding of justice."
CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen vented yesterday on CBSNews.com about how mum John Roberts has been during questioning, refusing to take the bait on hot-button questions posed by liberal senators. But in doing so, Cohen gives away his bias: he'd prefer a Supreme Court justice who believes in judicial activism, rather than judicial restraint:
Roberts took the so-called "Ginsburg Test" for refusing to answer Committee questions — dubiously named in honor of the 1993 Court nominee, Ruth Bader Ginsburg — to a new extreme.
He invoked it so many times, and in such an eager fashion, that they ought to do a Saturday Night Live Skit about it — a guy gets asked if he wants fries or a salad and he answers that he isn’t comfortable answering the question because it eventually may come before the Court.
To Republicans on the panel, Roberts was happy to expound upon all the many things a judge must not do, or say, or think, or resolve, when it comes to the law. He was happy to talk about how and why the judiciary must often and typically be a passive partner in the dance between governmental branches.
He thus gave succor to those on the right who hope that the newly-constituted Supreme Court will be less reluctant than its predecessor in striking down Congressional legislation or in challenging the authority of the executive branch.
Gloria Borger's Early Show recap of yesterday's confirmation hearings for Judge John Roberts was dominated by exchanges with liberal senators pressing the Chief Justice nominee from the Left on abortion, but Borger closed off her report noting that conservatives are concerned about Roberts's views on overturning Roe v. Wade: "Conservatives are listening very closely to what Judge Roberts has to say about Roe versus Wade."
Although it is obvious from her own reporting that there is an equal if not stronger liberal obsession with preserving Roe at all costs from future reversal or weakening, Borger doesn't impute any political motivations to Roberts's critics, presenting the issue, rather, as one of whether the "precedent of Roe versus Wade so strong that Roberts would not vote to overturn it," as if long-held "strong" precedents in Court history somehow innoculate themselves from reversal on constitutional grounds when a future Court decides the reasoning of the precedent was grievously flawed (as the Court did in Brown v. Board of Education in reversing Plessy v. Ferguson).
Some noteworthy quotes from Tuesday's broadcast network evening newscast coverage of the Senate's confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. ABC's Linda Douglass saw civil rights through a liberal prism as, over a picture of Roberts with Ronald Reagan, she relayed how “Democrats hammered him about things he wrote as a young government lawyer 25 years ago, when the Reagan administration was fighting against expanding civil rights laws.” Conservatives would contend Reagan was just trying to ensure equal treatment of all races. Douglass also highlighted questions about the improper influence of Roberts' religious beliefs, as if anyone with them is disqualified: “Democrats made clear they suspect Roberts, a devout Catholic, will lower the wall between church and state. One Senator quoted John Kennedy.” Viewers then heard Senator Dianne Feinstein recite: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”
Over on CBS, Gloria Borger negatively framed Roberts' views on another topic: "The only woman on the panel grilled Roberts on his old legal memos, which appear to disparage women and their complaints about unequal pay." Borger repeatedly used the term “abortion rights” and Bob Schieffer hoped: “When he says today that Roe v. Wade is a 'settled legal precedent,' as he calls it, does that mean he supports abortion rights?"
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams trumpeted the liberal ideology of Arlen Specter, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and how Specter is "unafraid to act independently." Williams touted: “He says his brushes with death have made him hyper-aware of the life-saving possibilities of stem cell research. He brought an hour glass to a Senate hearing, he says, to point out time's a-wastin'." Williams soon championed how “from his earliest days in politics, on the staff of the Warren Commission, running for mayor of Philadelphia in 1967, to his 25 years in Congress, Specter has been unafraid to act independently. It's a virtue he believes will serve him well throughout these hearings."
Transcripts, compiled by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, follow.
Coming out of the John Roberts opening statement at 3:30 on MSNBC, anchor Brian Williams asked Tim Russert that Roberts is "not a perjurer or a lawbreaker that we know of," but how can one greet his claim that he has no agenda? That's quite a dramatic way of suggesting Roberts may not be trustworthy.
UPDATE: Brent Baker has given me the transcript. On both NBC and MSNBC, Williams said of (unlabeled) liberals: "If you're a member of one of the interest groups, perhaps one of the Senators dead-set against this nomination, when you look at this man who is ready for lifetime appointment to the federal bench, who is not a perjurer or a lawbreaker that we know of, say quote, 'I have no agenda, my job is to call balls and strikes.' That must be a pleasing, calming message no matter what your position."
Of 18 paragraphs, three discuss the pro-Roberts Judicial Confirmation Network, four equate the two sides, and seven discuss NARAL and other left-wing opponents of a sane judiciary. (Four paragraphs are neutral, not mentioning the activists directly.)
While the Post is silent on the conservatives' desiderata, the coverage of the lefties includes the following:
NARAL "action teams" will be watching the hearings from Colorado, ready to cry foul if they don't like what they see, executive director Meg Froelich said.
"Let's not have a coronation with Roberts," she said. "Let's have a real, genuine process."