I really don’t want to get all bent out of shape in advance of the debate over GWB’s Supreme Court nominations. I am hoping, perhaps beyond hope, that the process is an exemplary reflection of governmental process in our beloved constitutional republic. Wishful thinking aside, I want to make one comment about advance press coverage—an example of mainstream press bias that really pisses me off.
The July 11 issue of TIME is the source of my inflammation this time. (Even the Prednisone I had been taking for a short time did not reduce the swelling.) TIME seems to be trying to instigate a fight while polarizing its readership to adopt its viewpoint. On pages 24-25, TIME presents a photographic portrait of the assembled justices, with Sandra Day O’Connor’s image cut out. So far, so good. However, here’s where straight reporting takes a left turn. Each justice is labeled with a color-coded name tag, in which the color codes correspond to the political leanings of that particular justice. The categories are: Staunch Liberal, Moderate Liberal, Staunch Conservative, and Moderate Conservative. TIME rates the justices as follows:
Stephen G. Breyer: Moderate Liberal
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Moderate Liberal
Anthony Kennedy: Moderate Conservative
William H. Rehnquist: Staunch Conservative
Antonin Scalia: Staunch Conservative
David H. Souter: Moderate Liberal
John Paul Stevens: Moderate Liberal
Clarence Thomas: Staunch Conservative
Hmmm…I see no “Staunch Liberals.” I’d add another category, to the left of Staunch Liberal: Flaming Liberal Who Attempts to Legislate from the Bench. Once again, the labels are a nice, cool powder blue for the liberals and vivid red for the conservatives (all “staunch” except Anthony Kennedy). Looking at this photograph would lead one to think that there are no flamers on the court at all.
We all have the capability to read Supreme Court decisions—and their dissents—which are published on line at www.supremecourtus.gov and decide for ourselves. I encourage anyone interested in the forthcoming confirmation debates to read and digest some landmark decisions, then decide for himself or herself who lines up where. Be mindful along the way that the function of the Court is not to manage our lives by imposing judicial legislation, but to decide on constitutional compliance.
To reiterate, I am hoping that the confirmation process brings out the best—not the worst—in our system of government. The press needs to tone down its rebel rousing and do some fair, unbiased, straight reporting.