Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Re: Breyer’s and Souter’s Drift to the Right?


On the same day that we learn of Linda Greenhouse’s imminent departure from the New York Times, Greenhouse provides further evidence of her bias (or, for those of her supporters who contend that she’s steadfastly impartial, of her incompetence).


Recall that in early December Greenhouse wrote an article, based on the previous day’s oral argument (in Sprint/United Management Co. v. Mendelsohn), raising in its lead paragraph whether the Supreme Court has “drifted so far toward the employer’s side in job discrimination cases that it is now to the right of the Bush administration.”  As I pointed out, Greenhouse’s alarm was patently baseless, not least because (as the diligent reader would learn only towards the end of her article) two of the justices who supposedly were drifting so far toward the right were Justices Souter and Breyer.


Yesterday, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling by Justice Thomas, adopted the position that the EEOC had advanced.  Greenhouse’s article today oddly characterizes Thomas’s straightforward analysis as “somewhat cryptic”—Greenhouse has provided hostile and distorted accounts of Thomas’s opinions from the beginning (see This Week for Feb. 25, 1992)—and buries at the end her conclusion* that the “decision is likely to prove more favorable in the long run to discrimination plaintiffs.” 


Given her various (mis)understandings, why didn’t Greenhouse lead with something like this:  “In a surprising victory for job-discrimination plaintiffs, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled Tuesday …”?  Because that wouldn’t fit her broader narrative about a Court supposedly moving “to the right”.


* Greenhouse’s reasoning appears to misunderstand the interplay between rulings on evidentiary motions in limine and rulings on summary-judgment motions, but that’s a different matter.

Tags: Whelan


Subscribe to National Review