Bench Memos

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Pre-Post-erous Howler of the Day


It is damning with faint praise, but in the world of liberal newspapers, the Washington Post is a voice of sanity compared to the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. That said, day in and day out, the Post has been generating ridiculous comments on the pending Supreme Court vacancy.

There was stiff competition for today’s award for Pre-Post-erous Howler of the Day:

Arlen Specter’s advocacy of Justice O’Connor as the next chief justice has been declared ineligible, as the Post cannot be faulted for reporting the deep insights of Chairman Specter.

The Post’s front-page headline stating that the “High Stakes” in the battle are that “Another Defeat Could Tarnish Credibility [of liberal groups] as Advocacy Force” deserves dishonorable mention: “Spare Ralph Neas from Having to Get a Real Job” must be quite a rallying cry on the Left.

The assertion in the Post’s lead editorial that “broad-based support should remain Mr. Bush’s critical goal as he contemplates the replacement of” O’Connor is also an (un)worthy contender, as Senate Democrats have amply demonstrated that they will not support anyone who understands that the Constitution leaves the vast bulk of issues to be decided by American citizens through their state and federal representatives.

But the grand winner is the loopy assertion in that same editorial that justices like Scalia “insist on using the bench as a kind of pulpit for a larger war over American law and society,” display “a lack of modesty and a grandiose conception of the judicial function,” and “imagine themselves” to “be heroes.” The Post has it entirely backwards: There is no justice on the Court with a more modest conception of the judicial role than Scalia. As five or six of his colleagues have used the Court to entrench the Left’s agenda on the ongoing culture war, Scalia has time after time explained that the Constitution leaves these matters to the democratic processes to decide. He has embraced principles rooted in the Constitution–rather than manipulable multi-factored balancing tests–that would constrain justices and thereby reduce the Court’s power. It is the Left, by contrast, that pushes justices to imagine themselves to be heroes.


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