The Supreme Court today hears oral arguments in a highly charged case, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which will decide whether private corporations under Obama-care have the right to exercise religious objections to covering certain forms of emergency birth control, like morning-after pills, that the company believes are tantamount to abortion. The chain of arts-and-craft stores is challenging the provision under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which sets a high bar on government regulation involving religious belief.
On the front page of Monday's New York Times, Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak presented readers with the proposition that "Smaller States Find Outsize Clout Growing in Senate." It's part of "Unequal Representation," a Times series "examining challenges to the American promise that all citizens have an equal voice in how they are governed."
But Liptak's analysis of the "disproportionate power enjoyed in the Senate by small states...on issues as varied as gun control, immigration and campaign finance" showed a lot of concern for the specifically liberal policies currently thwarted by the old inconvenient Constitutional arrangement.
New York Times legal reporter Adam Liptak used his Friday lead (five other reporters contributed research) on Obama-care being upheld at the Supreme Court to take another crack at the argument by conservatives and libertarians, the so-called broccoli argument "as misguided, if not frivolous."
Conservatives took comfort from two parts of the decision: the new limits it placed on federal regulation of commerce and on the conditions the federal government may impose on money it gives the states.
Another Tuesday, another out-of-nowhere attack by New York Times reporter Adam Liptak on the Supreme Court, as it waits to hear a case important to liberals. With a vital decision looming on Obama-care, Liptak last week wrote a front-page story on the results of an unusual poll question from the Times asking people what they thought of the Supreme Court. Liptak linked the public's alleged disdain of SCOTUS to two conservative decisions, including Citizens United, a free speech victory loathed by the left and in the Times that allowed corporations and unions to donate unlimited amounts to campaigns.
Is the New York Times trying to soften up the Supreme Court before its Obama-care ruling, which may come later in June and could see the law declared unconstitutional? An unusual poll conducted by the Times and poll partner CBS News and plastered on Friday's front page is food for thought.
Thursday’s New York Times led with the Supreme Court’s 8-1 decision in the case pitting Westboro Baptist Church, the notorious roaming enclave that pickets funerals holding signs bearing messages like “God Hates Fags,” against the family of a Marine who died in Iraq, Matthew Snyder, whose funeral was picketed.
The front pages of the New York Times over the weekend were dominated by the announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, with stories looking back at his legacy as well as looking toward the upcoming political battle over replacing him.
....some conservatives who led the fight against Justice Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation last year said they should learn from mistakes made then, like making grand claims about raising vast sums of money only to find that Republican senators were not as committed to an all-out battle.
"We will all be laughed at -- including laughed at by Republican senators -- by raising the war cries too loud and too early, when in fact the senators will not deliver what we are promising," said Manuel Miranda of the Third Branch Network, who organizes regular conference calls of like-minded conservatives about judicial nominations. Instead, he said, conservatives should take a more "modest" and "measured" approach at first.
New York Times legal reporter Charlie Savage's original online report on the long-expected retirement of liberal Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (filed Friday afternoon) had a familiar ring to it which went beyond the usual effusiveness the paper bestows on liberal justices.
While noting Stevens held down the left wing of the Supreme Court, Savage twice emphasized the court's "increasingly conservative" nature in his original nytimes.com posting:
A soft-spoken Republican and former antitrust lawyer from Chicago, Justice Stevens has led liberals on a court that has become increasingly conservative. He was appointed by President Gerald Ford in December 1975 to succeed Justice William O. Douglas, who had retired the month before. He is the longest-serving current justice by more than a decade.
Confronted with a court far more conservative than the one he joined, Justice Stevens showed the world what his colleagues already knew: that beneath his amiable manner lay a canny strategist and master tactician, qualities he used to win victories that a simple liberal-conservative head count would appear to be impossible. A frequent dissenter even in his early years on the court, he now wrote more blunt and passionate opinions, explaining on several occasions that the nation was best served by an open airing of disagreements.
This next paragraph sounded very familiar to Times Watch:
As the nation's leading newspaper and a beneficiary of the American tradition of free expression, the New York Times would of course celebrate a First Amendment victory at the Supreme Court, right? Well, not exactly.
Friday's lead slot was dominated by the Supreme Court's expected but still momentous decision rejecting limits on corporate campaign spending in elections.
But the subhead to Adam Liptak's story, "Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Campaign Spending Limit," ignored the victory for free speech in favor of dour liberal fears: "Dissenters Argue That Ruling Will Corrupt Democracy."
Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.
The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment's most basic free speech principle -- that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.
The Washington Post and The New York Times published similar Supreme Court "analysis" pieces on their front pages Wednesday offering the theme that the court under Chief Justice John Roberts is moving boldly to the right, and the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor will have no effect on this bold shift. It sounded like two newspapers trying to cool down the controversy over judicial liberalism as the Sotomayor hearings approach.
The Post headline was "Term Saw High Court Move to the Right: Roberts-Led March Likely to Continue." Reporter Robert Barnes argued:
The court's term avoided the blockbuster decisions that at one point seemed inevitable. But its path was clear: a patient and steady move to the right led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., one that is likely to continue even if President Obama is successful in adding Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the high court -- and perhaps two others like her.
While conservatives were unhappy with the incrementalism of some Roberts opinions, Barnes wrote:
Here they go again: Today the New York Times ran yet another flaky story questioning the presidential eligibility of John McCain, born in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone, where his Navy father was stationed.
Back on February 28, Congressional reporter Carl Hulse wrote a big story on the "controversy," even though Hulse himself admitted little was likely to come of it. The Senate later approved a resolution declaring McCain eligible for the presidency.
Law reporter Adam Liptak's story today, which led the paper's National Section, ran under the hopeful headline, "A Hint of New Life to a McCain Birth Issue," and detailed findings from a Democratic college professor allegedly showing McCain unable to satisfty the constitutional requirement of being a "natural-born citizen."