On Sunday, I wrote about this hatchet job by the Los Angeles Times against Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas. Mrs. Thomas is a conservative activist who has established a lobbying group called “Liberty Central Inc.” to promote freedom and core conservative values. The LATimes argued that this created a threat to the impartiality of the Supreme Court.
The claim was not just that, if Liberty Central happened to find itself in litigation before the high court, Justice Thomas would be duty-bound to recuse himself (a proposition with which, I’m quite confident, Justice Thomas would be the first to agree). The gist of the Times story is that Ginni’s activism is a thoroughgoing problem not just for her husband but for the Court as an institution — that her work taints his participation in all cases in which conservative principles might somehow factor, and thereby taints the Supreme Court vaunted reputation as an impartial, apolitical arbiter. (I know, I know.)
If you want to know everything you need to know about the lefty legacy media, compare the Times’s treatment of Mrs. Thomas to the hagiography the newspaper published just a few weeks ago on the occasion of Ramona Ripston’s announcement that she would soon retire from her position as executive director of the ACLU of Southern California.
An “indefatigable liberal icon,” gushed the tribute, Ms. Ripston spent 38 years “battl[ing] police over the treatment of prisoners and the homeless. She’s marched against segregation and sued for better inner-city schools. She’s taken authorities to court for withholding public housing and medical care from those she believes need them most.” If it’s not clear enough where she’s coming from, we further learn she has become disheartened in recent times because she thinks President Obama “could have pushed harder on his health plan.” (How? Maybe another 50 speeches? Is there some other part of the Constitution he neglected to mangle? A judgeship he forgot to trade for a yea vote?)
When finally we reach the end of the puff piece, readers are informed that Ms. Ripston has for the last 20 years been married to Judge Stephen Reinhardt, perhaps the most leftist jurist on the nation’s most leftist federal court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Do we get any LATimes handwringing about whether Ms. Ripston’s crusades for “social justice” undermine Judge Reinhardt’s adjudicating and thus taint the Ninth Circuit generally? Surely you jest. We learn it’s no big deal: He just recuses himself whenever the ACLU is involved in a case. In fact, far from grave concern, the newspaper sees the conflict as occasion for a good laugh: “They always ask me,” Reinhardt jokes, “why couldn’t I have married one of those conservatives and taken that vote away.” (Emphasis in original.) What a riot!
There’s a reason this newspaper, like so many other, has driven itself into bankruptcy. If we really need unabashed bias leavened by the occasional one-liner from an institution putting on the airs of impartiality, there is always the Ninth Circuit website. Who needs the LATimes?