January 21, 2006

This Is What Happens

. . . when the media is controlled by large corporations, beholden to the military, and in bed with a Republican Administration. From a David Boaz article posted to Reason Online:

Remember all those news stories in 1993 about how the nomination of former ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg to replace conservative Justice Byron White on the United States Supreme Court would "tilt the balance of the court to the left?"

Of course you don't. Because there weren't any.

In the past three months, the major media have repeatedly hammered away at the theme that Judge Samuel Alito Jr. would "shift the Supreme Court to the right" if he replaced retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

According to Lexis/Nexis, major newspapers have used the phrase "shift the court" 36 times in their Alito coverage. They have referred to the "balance of the court" 32 times and "the court's balance" another 15. "Shift to the right" accounted for another 18 mentions.

Major radio and television programs indexed by Lexis/Nexis have used those phrases 63 times. CNN told viewers that Alito would "tilt the balance of the court" twice on the day President Bush nominated him. NPR's first-day story on "Morning Edition" was headlined "Alito could move court dramatically to the right."

Now maybe all this is to be expected. Alito is a conservative, he's been nominated to replace a centrist justice, and he probably will move the Supreme Court somewhat to the right—which is probably what at least some voters had in mind when they elected a Republican president and 55 Republican senators.

But note the contrast to 1993, when President Bill Clinton nominated the liberal Ginsburg to replace conservative White. White had dissented from the landmark decisions on abortion rights in Roe v. Wade and on criminal procedure in the Miranda case, and he had written the majority opinion upholding sodomy laws in Bowers v. Hardwick. Obviously his replacement by the former general counsel of the ACLU was going to "move the court dramatically to the left."

So did the media report Ginsburg's nomination that way? Not on your life.

Not a single major newspaper used the phrases "shift the court," "shift to the left," or "balance of the court" in the six weeks between Clinton's nomination and the Senate's ratification of Ginsburg. Only one story in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer mentioned the "court's balance," and that writer thought that Ginsburg would move a "far right" court "toward the center."

The only network broadcast to use any of those phrases was an NPR interview in which liberal law professor Paul Rothstein of Georgetown University said that Ginsburg might offer a "subtle change...a nuance" in "the balance of the court" because she would line up with Justice O'Connor in the center.

No one thought that some momentary balance on the Court had to be preserved when a justice retired or that it was inappropriate to shift the ideological makeup of the Court. And certainly no one had made that point during 60 years of mostly liberal appointees from Democratic presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson—even as they replaced more conservative justices who had died or retired. ut suddenly, we are told by senators, activists, and pundits that a nominee should not change the makeup of the Court.


h/t: Eugene Volokh

Posted by Attila Girl at January 21, 2006 07:41 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Funny how the Dems refer to Justice Byron White as a conservative but fail to mention he was named to the bench by his buddy, President JFK. Yes, and he also worked on the 1960 campaign to elect Kennedy plus got a job in the new adminstration in 1961.

When Souter was named by Poppa Bush, it is also ironic the Dems/Libs/and feminists protested the nomination. Now the Dems and the Libs and the women groups love Souter. So thanks for bringing the debate to your site, and allowing me to kick the Dems for using politics to deny Bush the right to nominate the judges which represent his campaign pledge in 2000 and 2004. The Dems have lost seats in the House and the Senate in every election since 2000, they offer zero solutions and zero leadership.

Posted by: Crystal Dueker at January 22, 2006 10:36 AM


I think the MSM didn't talk about a shift to the left, because there was no such movement. Liberals were still severely outnumbered.

Posted by: Jim Hudson at January 22, 2006 04:46 PM


When Ginsburg was nominated?

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 22, 2006 08:33 PM


That's only if you permit liberals to label themselves as "moderate".

Funny how few liberals there seem to be out there these days. Plenty of "moderates". Plenty of "progressives" (progress toward what, exactly?) Plenty of "sensible centrists". But the camoflage begins to fail when you look at their actual positions on the issues. One might actually begin to conclude that they are a bit gun shy about the label?

In this regard, the Kossacks and Deaniacs are actually providing a valuable service to the left. The flakier and more off-the-wall they appear, the more cover it gives for the rest of the left to distance themselves and appear centrist. Like Hillary "Socialized Medicine" Clinton, for example.

There's no question that Ginsberg shifted the balance of the court. She was more liberal than the justice she replaced. I suspect any other reading of this would require some fairly convoluted logic.

If you want to stand by it, I challenge you to do a better job of supporting your assertion, Jim.

Posted by: Desert Cat at January 23, 2006 12:02 PM


Balance--!! Yes, that's it, put a communist on the bench. Insane. The real problem is that they think they are right. Communism is Evil.

Posted by: Chief RZ at January 23, 2006 01:06 PM


Way off topic, I know, but I thought you would like to know that Eggagog is back. He threw the spider plants out the window!

Posted by: JohnL at January 23, 2006 01:37 PM


Wow. i'll have to check it out.

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 23, 2006 04:33 PM


In my view, before Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the last genuine liberal on the court was William O. Douglas.

Posted by: Jim Hudson at February 2, 2006 05:11 PM




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