Bench Memos

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The New York Times on Alito and Presidential Power


The Washington Post is a voice of reason compared to the in-house editorialists at the New York Times. This typically over-the-top editorial today, “Alito’s Zeal for Presidential Power,” is as nuanced and carefully reasoned as a press release by Chuck Schumer. My other recent posts address the flaws in its discussion of Alito and wiretap immunity, and I won’t repeat them here.

I do find comical that the editorial finds this innocuous 1986 memo on presidential signing statements a “bald proposal for grabbing power for the president.” From discussions with reporters yesterday, I learned that Senate Democrats were trying to sell this ridiculous pitch. The New York Times eagerly bought it.

Even more laughable is the editorial’s apparent concern that Alito, as an attorney at DOJ, was working to advance the interests of … the executive branch.

An aside: Stupid editorials like this one make me think that it would be a good practice for newspapers to have their editorial writers sign, and thereby take accountability for, the in-house editorials they write. Writing in an institutional or anonymous voice encourages recklessness and irresponsibility. It’s no coincidence that the nastiest and stupidest comments on blogs and in e-mails are anonymous.


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