Knight Ridder (Again)

by Jonathan H. Adler

Let me echo Ed’s comments Thursday’s Knight Ridder article by Stephen Henderson and Howard Mintz. The language of the article is exceedingly misleading. A review of a judge’s written opinions alone — which, by definition, represent a fraction of the cases in which the judge has participated — cannot justify the statement that Alito has “almost never found a government search unconstitutional.” Henderson knows this — he and I had a long phone conversation on Wednesday about the problems in his earlier analysis and his inaccurate characterizations of his findings in his C-Span interview (discussed here). It is one thing to say the Alito’s tends to support the police over criminal defendants (although this too is of little probative value without examining the extent to which his approach is consistent with prevailing law), but something else entirely to say Alito has “almost never” voted a given way based upon an unrepresentative sample of his opinions. Again, I made these points to Henderson when he called me Wednesday, but it does not seem to have had much of an effect.