Bench Memos

This Is Not a Precedent

Steady now, dear readers. I am about to say something nice about Linda Greenhouse, the New York Times reporter who has had the Supreme Court beat for even longer than I have been paying attention to the institution myself. I think she is capable of the most flatfooted left-wing bias in the business when it comes to reporting on the substantive jurisprudential questions that the Court decides. But her experienced eye pays off today as she turns in a first-rate report on the changes that are quietly occurring at the Roberts Court in the ethos of oral arguments. Partly due to the departure of Justice O’Connor (who was often first out of the gate with a question in the first 20 seconds), and partly due to the style of questioning favored by Roberts, the lawyers who argue before the Court are actually getting to . . . make arguments. An interesting report on an interesting phenomenon—just what we want from reporters.

Matthew J. Franck — Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.

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