Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism—October 8

The New York Times Building in New York City. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

2006New York Times public editor Byron Calame criticizes Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse for violating the paper’s ethical guidelines by asserting, in a speech at Radcliffe, that the government “had turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, other places around the world, the U.S. Congress, whatever. And let’s not forget the sustained assault on women’s reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism.” According to Calame, Greenhouse defends these remarks as “‘statements of fact’—not opinion—that would be allowed to appear in a Times news article.” Calame forcefully condemns Greenhouse’s ethical violation:

“[A]s the influential Supreme Court reporter for The Times, a beat that touches nearly all areas of public policy, Ms. Greenhouse has an overriding obligation to avoid publicly expressing these kinds of personal opinions…. Bemoaning the difficulties journalists face in being citizens strikes an old-fashioned editor like me as whining….  Keeping personal opinions out of the public realm is simply one of the obligations for those who remain committed to the importance of impartial news coverage.”

Ed Whelan — Ed Whelan is a leading commentator on nominations to the Supreme Court and the lower courts and on issues of constitutional law.

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