MSNBC Divides SCOTUS Between 'So-Called Liberals' And 'Die Hard Conservatives'

June 26th, 2024 12:17 PM

As the Wednesday edition of MSNBC’s Ana Cabrera Reports waited for and then reacted to the day’s Supreme Court opinions, the assorted legal minds assembled to promote multiple conspiracy theories about the Court. One was the idea that the Court is slow-walking former President Donald Trump’s immunity case to help him win the election, while another tried to claim there are no liberals on the Court.

Regarding the immunity case, Cabrera asked Law Prof. Leah Litman, “When it comes to cases, though, that could impact the election, like abortion or immunity specifically, should they consider whether they're leaving voters hanging? Do they have the ability to really prioritize or fast track certain things?”



Litman claimed it could and cited two examples:

So we know that they absolutely do have that ability and that they've exercised it before. When the Supreme Court agreed to hear the decision out of Colorado, that the Colorado Supreme Court initially ordered Donald Trump off the ballot, finding that the 14th Amendment disqualified him, the Supreme Court acted quite quickly and opted to release a decision within 50-some days of when they agreed to hear the case and they also released the decision before Super Tuesday so that voters could go to the voting booth and know whether one of the candidates was actually disqualified from office. 

The second one was, “In Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court acted extremely quickly and issued a decision basically one day after oral argument in this case. So, the Court has acted quickly when an electoral timeline has suggested that acting quickly would be in the nation's best interest.”

Those two cases involved actual legal electoral deadlines involving primary election days and Electoral College certification. The immunity case is not connected to the election except for the fact that liberals want it to be because they think additional Trump convictions will benefit them. Nevertheless, Litman declared, “So I do think it's telling that they have apparently declined to do so in the Trump immunity case.”

Later, legal analyst, former Obama solicitor general, and self-described “extremist centrist” Neal Katyal was alluding to the Court’s Wednesday ruling that held that states and certain individuals did not have standing to sue the feds over censorship claims when he assessed the Court’s various factions, “Well, in a lot of the politically-charged cases, you know, when I'm there, I tend to think about it as three blocks of the Court. There's the three so-called liberals: Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson.”

Denying that liberals are liberals disqualifies you from calling yourself a centrist, but Katyal’s faux centrism was only just beginning to reveal itself, “There's the three much more die hard conservatives, Gorsuch, Alito, and Thomas, as Melissa points out, and then there are the three justices in the middle of the Court, not in the middle of American public opinion, these three are far to the right, I think of mainstream public American opinion, but on the Court, the chief justice, Justice Kavanaugh, and Justice Barrett do play that role.”

Apparently Katyal views himself as the definition of the political center, but he was not done pretending the liberal wing of the Court does not exist, “in this case, you see that same lineup happening with the three more moderate conservative justices joining the three so-called liberal justices for that alignment there.”

Katyal’s analysis is just an exaggerated form of a typical media problem. The liberal position is defined as moderate, and so anyone who isn’t a liberal must be a wingnut. Throw in some bad analogies courtesy of Litman and you get typical MSNBC legal analysis.

Here is a transcript for the June 26 show:

MSNBC Ana Cabrera Reports


10:07 AM ET

ANA CABRERA: When it comes to cases, though, that could impact the election, like abortion or immunity specifically, should they consider whether they're leaving voters hanging? Do they have the ability to really prioritize or fast track certain things?

LEAH LITMAN: So we know that they absolutely do have that ability and that they've exercised it before. When the Supreme Court agreed to hear the decision out of Colorado, that the Colorado Supreme Court initially ordered Donald Trump off the ballot, finding that the 14th Amendment disqualified him, the Supreme Court acted quite quickly and opted to release a decision within 50-some days of when they agreed to hear the case and they also released the decision before Super Tuesday so that voters could go to the voting booth and know whether one of the candidates was actually disqualified from office. 

We know years ago in Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court acted extremely quickly and issued a decision basically one day after oral argument in this case. So, the Court has acted quickly when an electoral timeline has suggested that acting quickly would be in the nation's best interest. So I do think it's telling that they have apparently declined to do so in the Trump immunity case.

NEAL KATYAL: Well, in a lot of the politically-charged cases, you know, when I'm there, I tend to think about it as three blocks of the Court. There's the three so-called liberals: Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson, there's the three much more die hard conservatives, Gorsuch, Alito, and Thomas, as Melissa points out, and then there are the three justices in the middle of the Court, not in the middle of American public opinion, these three are far to the right, I think of mainstream public American opinion, but on the Court, the chief justice, Justice Kavanaugh, and Justice Barrett do play that role and I think Melissa’s absolutely right, as usual, she is, to point out that, you know, in this case, you see that same lineup happening with the three more moderate conservative justices joining the three so-called liberal justices for that alignment there. I don't know that it necessarily tells us much about where the immunity case is going or any other case. These are pretty stable blocks across one case to another. It wouldn't surprise me if we saw something like that in the immunity case, but, you know, I think as Melissa says, it's just a tiny tea leaf of what might be to come.