USA Today Supreme Court Reporter Joan Biskupic penned an article today titled "O'Connor's legacy fading on reshaped court." For this particular title, "reshaped" is code for "conservative." Biskupic's article laments several recent conservative decisions of the court, and she frames these decisions as a blow to the legacy of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Biskupic literally builds up O'Connor as a national hero.
When retired justice Sandra Day O'Connor visited Capitol Hill recently to speak publicly about her husband's Alzheimer's, she was greeted as a national hero. Senators lauded her historic place as the first woman on the Supreme Court and the justice whose opinions often set the nation's law.
O'Connor, who was frequently the tie-breaking vote in close cases, is further praised for her "middle-ground" practical approach in her decision making. But things have changed since O'Connor's retirement from the high court.
If we needed more proof that CNN's legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, is one of the most disingenuous legal minds of our day, the Saginaw News helped us out with that quest. Toobin made an appearance at a Midland, MI event this week where, among other comments, he ridiculously claimed that the left leaning Justices that sit on the Supreme Court are "surprisingly moderate."
We will remember one of Toobin's other recent absurdities when he claimed that the GOP likes voter I.D. laws because they "stop Democrats from voting," despite the fact that all evidence shows that requiring an I.D. has not stopped anyone from voting.
But the truly "stark contrast" was how Lewis treated the respective camps with regard to their hypothetical Supreme Court nominations. Lewis painted an uninvolved McCain as paying "fealty" to "the conservative faithful," while an engaged Obama would be merely trying to reverse the "current conservative dominance of the courts" without displaying any liberal ideological thrust of his own.
Back in 2003, Lewis identified Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch as a "leading conservative," but Sen. Ted Kennedy was simply "Democrat of Massachusetts."
His Wednesday report showed a similar contrast, with tons of "conservatives" (18 in all in a 1,400-word story) emanating from the McCain camp but not a single "liberal" to be found around Obama.
In America, you need to show identification to buy alcohol, get into a bar, or apply for a job. Yet, for some reason, liberal media members think that Republicans who advocate voter ID laws do so exclusively to prevent Democrats from going to polling booths.
Such was clearly evident Friday evening when Bill Moyers discussed some recent Supreme Court rulings with CNN and New Yorker magazine's legal affairs analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Better strap yourself in tightly, for the following from "Bill Moyers Journal" on PBS is guaranteed to offend all that actually believe voter identification should be required in every state (video embedded right):
Although a November ballot measure could encourage higher turnout by conservatives who are not naturally aligned with McCain, it also could alienate moderates and young voters, who polls show are far more accepting of same-sex marriage.
Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had sketched out a more centrist path than the court's. The decision could encourage Democratic interest groups to press candidates to extend their support for civil unions to same-sex marriage itself.
So the danger for McCain is that those rascally social conservatives could doom his chances to win the White House. The danger for Democrats, that the left-wing activists might rattle the cage a bit more than usual. But the possibility of socially conservative but fiscally liberal Democrats in swing states like Ohio, West Virginia, Missouri, or Colorado once again eluding the Democratic vote was dismissed out of hand.
The Catholic-majority Supreme Court has no respect for nuns. That's the new media meme about a recent Supreme Court ruling upholding an Indiana voter ID law. That very same law, the media would have us believe, "barred" or "turned away" from voting 12 nuns in South Bend on the Hoosier State's May 6 primary. Of course as a simple read of the Indiana Secretary of State's Web site shows, that's utter nun-sense. but Time's Karen Tumulty has picked up on it twice over at that magazine's Swampland blog.
This from a post yesterday informing readers of a news conference to be held today at 1 p.m. EDT:
Surely, our majority-Catholic Supreme Court should have known better than to get on the wrong side of the Sisters. As we wrote earlier, the first victims of the new ruling on Voter ID were elderly nuns in Indiana. This just in, in my emailbox: The nuns of Missouri rap the Supreme Court's knuckles with a great big ruler:
At least they're open about it: the New York Times disdains Supreme Court justices who hew to the principles upon which this country was founded. The Times's admission came in the course of an editorial calling on Obama and Clinton to put aside their bickering and focus on beating John McCain. That is vital, in the Times's view, given McCain's pledge to nominate Supreme Court justices in the mold of John Roberts and Samuel Alito.
Writes the Times [emphasis added]:
Mr. McCain predictably criticized liberal judges, vowed strict adherence to the Founders’ views and promised to appoint more judges in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. That is just what the country does not need.
Those opposed to the Roe v Wade abortion decision are “the far right” in the vernacular of the Associated Press. In a dispatch datelined from Winston-Salem, North Carolina where John McCain delivered an address Tuesday castigating Barack Obama for voting against the confirmations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, as he pledged to name non-activist judges, reporter Libby Quaid wrote:
McCain, the eventual GOP nominee, promised to appoint judges in the mold of Roberts and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, saying they would interpret the law strictly to curb the scope of their rulings. While McCain didn't mention abortion, the far right understands that such nominees would be likely to limit or perhaps overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
On last night's "Verdict" with Dan Abrams, Dan and guest [Constitutional Law Professor] Jonathan Turley dissected Sunday's "60 Minutes" interview with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. After dissenting with Scalia's claim that it was Al Gore "who brought it (election 2000) into the Florida courts," Turley then made the following claim:
Look, both sides were challenging this question. The funny thing of course is that Al Gore appears to have won Florida. And so, when Justice Scalia says he brought this trouble upon himself, that‘s not exactly fair since he apparently won the state, did not get credit for the state and ultimately lost the presidency over that failure.
Monday’s "The Situation Roon" followed-up on Kelli Arena and Wolf Blitzer’s biased reporting on the Supreme Court upholding Indiana’s voter ID law with two segments featuring five talking heads -- four liberals to one conservative. In the first segment, Donna Brazile, who appeared in Arena’s report via sound bite and continued her "voter suppression" argument, faced-off against Republican strategist John Feehery, who effectively countered the liberal argument by bringing up the fact that he had to show ID in order to enter the CNN studio. In the second segment, Jeffrey Toobin, Jack Cafferty, and Gloria Borger picked up on Brazile’s suppression argument and portrayed the Court’s decision as possibly "something sinister" and a "partisan enterprise."
Theoretically one of the pluses of reading British newspaper coverage of American politics is that the reporters and editors would exhibit a certain detachment from the political biases that much more easily ensnare domestic reporters. That often doesn't play out in practice, however, as today's Financial Times demonstrates with a four-paragraph brief on yesterday's Supreme Court ruling upholding an Indiana law requiring voter identification for voting.
"Supreme Court ruling gives Republicans a boost," blares the headline for reporter Patti Waldmeir's April 29 story. While Waldmeir avoided any references to the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision, she saw fit to quote Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) attacking the 6-3 decision as "a blow to what America stands for -- equal access to the polls."
Waldmeir failed to find a Republican to counter Schumer. What's more, the FT reporter failed to note that Indiana voters can always vote with a provisional ballot if they cannot or will not present a valid photo ID. From the Web page for the Indiana Secretary of State:
Tuesday's New York Times led with the Supreme Court ruling, by a vote of 6-3, to uphold an Indiana law, favored by conservatives, requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Huffy Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse called it a "splintered decision," apparently code for close decisions she doesn't approve of. (See here for more journalistic "splintering.")
During a segment on Monday’s "The Situation Room," host Wolf Blitzer and CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena framed the Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana’s "strict" voter ID law according to the liberal view (a law so "strict" that it calls for the voter show photo ID before voting). Arena’s report offered three critics of the decision to only one supporter, who happened to be Indiana’s Secretary of State. One of the three critics was a quadriplegic who apparently "had to pay more than $100 to get documentation to prove who she was" before getting an ID in Indiana. After Arena’s report, Blitzer tried to spin this as a decision by Republican-appointed justices, despite the fact it was John Paul Stevens, one of the Court’s most liberal members, who wrote the opinion. [audio available here]
Blitzer introduced Arena’s report by describing the decision as having "an enormous impact," and asked Arena to describe "the enormity of what the U.S. Supreme Court has decided." She then first harkened back to the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000. "The 2000 presidential race raised questions about election integrity. And Democrats say today's Supreme Court ruling may raise even more."
Arena then played three sound bites in a row of critics of the voter ID law. In the first sound bite, Donna Brazile charged that the "voter ID scam is a suppression tactic used by many people to undermine the right to vote in this country." In the second, Melissa Madill, identified as an "Indiana voting rights advocate," stated that it was "infuriating that people who really need to impact the system the most are being denied the right to do so." In the last sound bite, Karen Vaughn, who Arena introduced as "a quadriplegic who doesn't have a driver's license or a passport," and who "had to pay more than $100 to get documentation to prove who she was," accused the supporters of the law of not caring about people like her.
The United States Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter ID law today in a 6-3 decision. In an earlier post, Ken Shepherd pointed out that Associated Press reporter Mark Sherman framed the ruling as "splintered." While the four conservative Justices joined in the majority opinion, the decision itself was written by liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, and so Sherman's terminology is questionable at the very least.
But this isn't the first time Sherman has used the phrase "splintered." When the Supreme Court issued its death penalty ruling two weeks ago, Sherman wrote:
U.S. executions are all but sure to resume soon after a nationwide halt, cleared Wednesday by a splintered Supreme Court that approved the most widely used method of lethal injection.
Incredibly, Sherman framed this decision as being made by the "conservative court led by Chief Justice John Roberts," even though it was a 7-2 decision.
In a 10:15 EDT post today at CNN.com, producer Bill Mears noted the 6-3 ruling by the Supreme Court upholding an Indiana law requiring photo ID in order to vote. Yet Mears left out that Democrats who challenged the law were unable to produce a single voter who could prove he or she was unable to vote due to the law nor did Mears point out mechanisms the Indiana law has in place for provisional balloting and free voter ID cards.
Here's Mears's four-paragraph blog post at the CNN Political Ticker:
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Supreme Court on Monday backed Indiana's law requiring voters to show photo identification, despite concerns thousands of elderly, poor, and minority voters could be locked out of their right to cast ballots.
The 6-3 vote allows Indiana to require the identification when it holds its statewide primary next month.
The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld Kentucky's lethal injection procedure for capital punishment. The decision will likely end self-imposed death penalty moratoriums in several states. As of writing this article, Virginia had already lifted its moratorium.
The decision had been long-awaited by advocates on both sides of the death penalty debate. Court prognosticators had mostly believed the court would uphold Kentucky's lethal injection program. But it was a surprise to many that the affirmance came with a 7-2 vote. The Roberts court has been known for a series of contentious 5-4 splits of any number of decisions, often with Justice Kennedy being the key swing vote.
In the Roberts court a 7-2 decision is a landslide, but that did not stop Associated Press writer Mark Sherman from describing that the "splintered Supreme Court cleared the way" for the resumption of capital punishment.
While the word "humane" does appear within the Supreme Court's ruling today upholding Kentucky's lethal injection method of execution, is it biased of Los Angeles Times reporter David Savage to put the term in quote marks in his lede? I'm leaning towards yes.:
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court cleared the way today for executions to resume across the nation, ruling that lethal injections, if properly carried out, are a "humane" means of ending a condemned individual's life.
The court upheld Kentucky's use of lethal injections by a surprisingly large 7-2 vote.
The Newsweek article "When Reason Meets Rifles" discusses the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court today. The basic dispute in the case is whether D.C.'s outright handgun ban and de facto ban on rifles, shotguns, and other firearms are unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. Notice that the bias begins in the title itself, where "reason" and "rifles" are implied to be mutually exclusive concepts.
Could this photo be a first? It shows a card-carrying member of the MSM shooting a handgun. That's Jan Crawford Greenburg, an ABC News legal correspondent. The clip, pun intended, of Greenburg on the firing range was part of a segment she narrated on today's Good Morning America on a case to be argued before the Supreme Court today. At issue is the District of Columbia's law banning handguns. The case comes before the Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. invalidated the law. The decision could be a landmark, potentially the first time the Supreme Court rules squarely on the issue of whether the Second Amendment establishes an individual right to bear arms.
The segment was surprisingly respectful of the right to bear arms. Beyond Greenburg's personal marksmanship demonstration, the segment began with a sympathetic depiction of the plight of Shelly Parker, the DC resident who started the case by suing the city over its gun ban.
Here in Ithaca and no doubt in other liberal bastions across the land, you can still see cars festooned with those bitter bumper stickers: "Re-Defeat Bush!" and "Bush: Selected, Not Elected!" Those sentiments remain reflected in an MSM still smarting from Florida 2000. All of which made Ann Curry's words on this morning's Today, announcing the ascendancy of Raul Castro in Cuba, so ironic.
ANN CURRY: In the news this morning, we begin with Cuba and its [first] new president in nearly half a century. Raul Castro was officially chosen on Sunday to take over from his brother Fidel who announced his retirement last week.
Noting Sen. Barack Obama's recent statement that he considers the Second Amendment an individual right -- setting aside for a moment his pro-gun control record and defense of the D.C. handgun ban -- ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg dismissed private gun ownership as constitutionally protected, holding instead that the "orthodox" view defends only a state's right.
Here's the relevant portion from a February 15 entry at Greenburg's Legalities blog (emphasis mine):
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt got angry this week. Not at the Times' shoddy, statistically worthless slam of U.S. veterans that appeared on last Sunday's front page (next week, perhaps?), but at conservative blogger Ed Whelan, for having the temerity of bringing up a possible conflict of interest involving the Times' Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse.
Whelan, who is President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and writes the "Bench Memos" blog at National Review Online, unearthed the Supreme Court reporter's controversial tie last month.
On January 9, a California appeals court struck down San Francisco's 2005 ban on handguns, citing that local governments lack authority under California law to enact such a ban (h/t NewsBusters reader John Kernkamp).
While this is a state law struck down on state constitutional grounds, not the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it is a major victory for gun rights advocates -- in a liberal Democratic state no less -- in a presidential election year in which the Supreme Court of the United States is hearing a 2nd Amendment case in March (District of Columbia v. Heller).
Yet while the San Francisco Chronicle's Bob Egelko covered the story on January 10, I'm having trouble finding any coverage elsewhere in the media. When searching Nexis, I found no coverage of the San Francisco gun ban story in the New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Post, nor broadcast networks ABC, CBS, or NBC.
Meanwhile, as the Chronicle's Egelko noted in a January 14 story, San Francisco's district attorney has filed a friend-of-the-court brief backing the District of Columbia in its appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the District's 1976 handgun ban:
Only one Supreme Court Justice seemed keen on overturning Indiana's voter identification law, Los Angeles Times reporter David Savage noted in a January 9 article at latimes.com. That would be liberal Clinton appointee Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But while Savage noted that "conservatives [were] leading the way," in questioning the validity of the Indiana Democrats' complaint about the law, he failed to note Ginsburg's ideological leanings. Nor did he suggest she's out on a far-left limb since none of other liberal colleagues shared her concerns:
It's bound to be overlooked by the media at-large in large part due to the Iowa caucuses, but a court ruling that burdens the U.S. Navy with yet another environmentally-driven restriction was handed down from a federal district court judge yesterday. That judge, the Hon. Florence-Marie Cooper, is a Clinton appointee, a fact unreported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Robert McClure (emphasis mine):
A federal judge forbade the Navy on Thursday from using a powerful form of sonar within 12 miles of the California coast and slapped other restrictions on naval war exercises in a ruling that could have repercussions in the Pacific Northwest.
U.S. District Judge Florence Marie-Cooper [sic] said noise from the Navy's midfrequency sonar far outstrips levels at which federal rules require ear protection for humans on the job. Whales' hearing is extremely sensitive.
"The court is persuaded that the (protection) scheme proposed by the Navy is grossly inadequate to protect marine mammals from debilitating levels of sonar exposure," Marie-Cooper wrote in her ruling.
The Navy offered to reduce the sonar's intensity when whales approached within about 1,100 yards and power down further before shutting the sonar off when the creatures got within 200 yards. The judge ordered sonar shut off when marine mammals are within 2,200 yards.
Wednesday night's CNN/YouTube presidential debate for the Republican candidates largely lived up to its promise to be a debate fitting for Republican voters as the vast majority of the questions used were asked from a conservative point of view. But the GOP debate's slant toward conservative questions was less than the July 23 CNN/YouTube Democratic debate's slant toward liberal questions. On Wednesday, out of a total of 34 video questions presented, conservative questions outnumbered liberal questions by 14 to 8, with the remaining questions ideologically ambiguous or neutral. During the Democratic debate, out of a total of 38 video questions, the slant toward liberal questions came in at 17 liberal to 6 conservative, with the remainder ambiguous or neutral.
Teasing a story about the Supreme Court agreeing to hear an appeal concerning the Washington, D.C. handgun gun and whether it violates the 2nd Amendment's protection of an individual's right to keep and bear arms, CBSNews.com employed an ominous-looking graphic on its home page.
Pictured at right is the CBS/AP graphic showing in the foreground a right hand grasping a handgun, with an outline of the continental United States overlaid atop an American flag. Superimposed on the map and flag are the concentric circles of a shooting target. The corresponding story can be found here.
By contrast, ABCNews.com chose for its front page and story a graphic depicting a handgun beneath the seal of the United States Supreme Court (shown below the fold):
CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, while moderating the second half of the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas on Thursday night, added her own "two cents" to a question she fielded from an "undecided voter." After the voter asked the nominees what qualifications a Supreme Court nominee should possess, Malveaux directed the question to Senator Christopher Dodd, and added whether or not he would "require nominees to support abortion rights."
LaShannon Spencer, who was identified as a member of the First African Methodist Church, asked the question near the top of the 10 pm Eastern hour. She highlighted how health care and the Iraq war had, in her view, dominated the questions during past debates. "We constantly hear health care questions, and questions pertaining to the war. But we don't hear questions pertaining to the Supreme Court justice or education. My question is, if you are elected president, what qualities must the appointee possess?"
"Thank God for CSPAN," Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas declares in his recently released memoirs entitled: "My Grandfather's Son."
Without the "gavel to gavel" coverage made available through an alternative media source Thomas tells readers he may not have had the opportunity to present himself to the American people in a compelling and straightforward manner.
Press coverage of his highly charged confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate 16 years ago was very weighted in favor of his critics, especially Anita Hill, the Supreme Court Justice recalls in his book.
Thomas contends Hill was in fact a "left-winger" who was permitted to serve up a false image of herself in testimony, thanks in no small part to a compliant media.
Sunny Hostin, a legal analyst for CNN’s "American Morning," demonstrated that she could not give an objective analysis on the legality of the death penalty during a segment on Wednesday’s show. Hostin, in a response to a question asked by co-host Kiran Chetry on the future of capitol punishment in the U.S., answered, "I think, as a society, perhaps, now we're moving towards the fact that, perhaps, killing by the state is not humane at all."
This "curious" reply, which came 21 minutes into the 7 am hour of "American Morning," wasn’t the only one Hostin made during the segment. Earlier, Hostin said that "people really are suffering" during lethal injection executions.