In his story (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes — and in case it gets edited later today; Update: It did) on the Supreme Court's decision this morning upholding Michigan voters' 2006 approval of a ban on race-, ethnic- and gender-based preferences in university admissions, USA Today's Richard Wolf failed to identify the size of the court majority, which was 6-2. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself because she was previously the U.S. solicitor general before being named to the high court. The court's decision effectively upholds such bans in seven other states.
Additionally, by focusing on Justice Anthony Kennedy as "the man to watch," Wolf initially left many readers with the impression that only five justices, Kennedy and the four others usually describe as "conservative" (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) made the ruling. The fact is that they were also joined by Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the supposedly reliable "liberals." Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
On Wednesday's CNN Newsroom, Carol Costello decried the Supreme Court's latest decision underlining that political donations are a form of free speech: "You know, these rulings continue to surprise me – only because so many Americans are concerned about the money factor...They think it's a real problem, and these kinds of rulings seem to only exacerbate those problems."
Costello brought on liberal CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin for his take on the ruling, and asked, "Doesn't that give wealthy donors a big advantage?" Toobin twice emphasize the left-of-center opposition to this decision and the previous Citizen United decision in 2010: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Readers are advised to remove all food, fluids, and flammables from proximity to their computers before proceeding. You've been warned.
NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams on this weekend's syndicated Chris Matthews Show actually said that when it comes to nominating judges, "A Democratic president is more likely to appoint somebody near the middle who is less ideological" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect history textbooks to present and analyze events and epochs with complete objectivity. But it’s entirely reasonable to demand that they don’t actively reinforce the news media’s liberal bias when it comes to recent history and individuals who are still alive and active in shaping that history.
Yet commonly used American history textbooks have eschewed historical analysis when discussing recent Supreme Court justices, and in its place substituted partisan political commentary.
It was symbolically perfect that on the same day Hollywood went to the Supreme Court to make the case for broadcast profanity, Entertainment Weekly reported that the next showing of the ABC smutcom “Modern Family” would feature a two-year-old girl dropping the F-bomb. The episode’s title will be “Little Bo Bleep.”
Shameless. There’s no other way to describe the people running these networks. We’re told “It might be the first time in a scripted family broadcast TV series where a child has said the F-word.” But it won’t be the last – especially if the high court grants Hollywood’s demands and shreds any regulation of nudity or profanity on TV.
Didn't Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy get the word? Barack Obama's re-election is all but guaranteed if you believe the liberal mainstream media. Just today the CNBC head of news reported the belief that Obama's re-election would be guaranteed by the actions of the Fed. So why the concern about the health of Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer? Could it be that Kennedy doesn't quite (GASP!) believe in the political invincibility of the Lightworker?
Apparently such "heretical" thoughts must have occurred to Professor Kennedy judging by his New Republic article in which he urges the two aging justices to retire now because of the inference that they could die during a Republican administration elected next year and be replaced by (EEK!) conservatives. Of course, Kennedy tries, not too successfully, to be delicate in his suggestion:
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer should soon retire. That would be the responsible thing for them to do. Both have served with distinction on the Supreme Court for a substantial period of time; Ginsburg for almost 18 years, Breyer for 17. Both are unlikely to be able to outlast a two-term Republican presidential administration, should one supersede the Obama administration following the 2012 election. What’s more, both are, well, old: Ginsburg is now 78, the senior sitting justice. Breyer is 72.
A classic form of media bias is this: if someone the liberal media considers to be a dummy (Sarah Palin, or for an older example, Dan Quayle) says something that suggests serious confusion, it's a big gaffe story sent directly to the desks of Leno and Letterman. But if we put the same words in the mouth of say, a liberal Supreme Court justice the media considers a genius, then no one blinks. At National Review's Bench Memos, Matthew Franck offered an example:
First I read it in the New York Times this morning, but it didn't hit me. Then my coffee kicked in, and by the time I was reading the Washington Post, I was awake enough to say "huh?" It seems that [Tuesday], during oral argument at the Supreme Court--the context is unimportant--Justice Stephen Breyer said that if a certain course of reasoning were to be adopted, "we are not just throwing a monkey wrench into the gears of government contracting; we're throwing the whole monkey."
ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday wondered if a Florida pastor's threat to burn a Koran could "change" and "challenge" the meaning of the First Amendment. [MP3 audio here.]
Talking to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, the Good Morning America host speculated, "When you think about the internet and when you think about the possibility that, you know, a pastor in Florida with a flock of 30, can threaten to burn the Koran and that leads to riots and killings in Afghanistan, does that pose a challenge to the First Amendment, to how you interpret it?"
Stephanopoulos followed-up, "Does [the threat of the Koran burning] change the nature of what we can allow and protect?" The ABC host didn't explain expand on how the First Amendment "changes" in light of an unpopular action such as a Koran burning.
Giving Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer an unusual evening newscast platform to plug a book, on Monday’s NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams brought viewers back to the Left’s ten-year-old grudge, cuing up Breyer to agree: “Do you think Bush v Gore hurt the credibility of the modern court?” Breyer replied with a simple “yes” and Williams suggested: “Irreparably?” “No,” Breyer said in rejecting Williams’ overwrought premise, so Williams pressed: “For how long?”
Williams introduced the September 13 segment by marveling:
We can’t remember a sitting justice on the U.S. Supreme Court ever stopping by our studios here, but it happened today. We spent some time with Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Clinton and residing on the liberal side of the court. Justice Breyer is out with a new book today. It’s about how the court works, including mistakes the court has made over the years. I started out by asking Justice Breyer, given his love of the Supreme Court, if he's concerned that just one percent of those Americans polled, in a recent survey, knew his name?
The Washington Post front page for May 27, 2009 announces the Sonia Sotomayor nomination to the Supreme Court with this large headline: "First Latina Picked for Supreme Court; GOP Faces Delicate Task in Opposition." There’s no reference to Sotomayor being a liberal.
Below that is a story on her ethnic identity headlined "Heritage Shapes Judge’s Perspective." Reporters Amy Goldstein and Jerry Markon notice three paragraphs in that she spoke at a conference "bluntly rejecting the argument of conservative legal thinkers that judges should decide cases purely on close readings of facts and law, excluding their own frames of reference." How did previous Supreme Court nominations do in labeling the ideology of nominees? Unsurprisingly the Post highlighted the conservatism of recent Republican nominees, but placed Democratic nominees in the middle.
Here’s a list of Washington Post front-page headlines on the first day after the official nomination that hinted at an ideology:
Samuel Alito (November 1, 2005)
"Alito Nomination Sets Stage for Ideological Battle; Bush's Court Pick Is Appeals Judge With Record of Conservative Rulings"
CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Tuesday twice labeled President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a “moderate liberal.” On American Morning, minutes after the Latina judge’s name emerged near the bottom half of the 8 am Eastern hour, Toobin predicted that she would “probably have very little trouble getting confirmed, and who will be a voice like David Souter for moderate liberalism.” Hours later, during The Situation Room program, he predicted that Sotomayor, if confirmed, would rule as a “moderate liberal, like Ginsburg and Breyer.”
American Morning anchor T. J. Holmes brought on the legal analyst to discuss the Obama nominee. Toobin first outlined that Sotomayor was “a very eminent judge....She brings a certain bipartisan aura, because she was originally appointed to the federal district court by the first President Bush....[T]his looks like a very solid pick, someone who will probably have very little trouble getting confirmed, and who will be a voice like David Souter for moderate liberalism.” Minutes before on the CNN program, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz referred to the nominee as “moderate and to the left.” Holmes followed up on this note, and asked, “Is that about right?”