The Spectacle Blog

Wisdom Grows in Greenhouse

By on 3.24.11 | 10:44AM

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times long has provided reflexively liberal coverage -- even as a supposedly (ha ha) "straight news" reporter -- of the Supreme Court. The record of her biases invading news coverage is long and unambiguous. Today, though, she shows some intellectual integrity, for which I give her credit, even though it's a bit late in coming. Here's what she writes:

Among common impressions of the current Supreme Court are that Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are joined at the hip and that the majority tilts reflexively in favor of corporations and employers.

She spends the rest of her column (she is now an opinion writer) explaining that in this term at least, both of those impressions are proving wrong:

• In decisions that have split the court in any direction, Justices Scalia and Thomas have voted on opposite sides more often than they voted together. ...  By wide margins, the court has rejected arguments put forward by corporate defendants in several cases. It refused to permit corporations to claim a personal-privacy exemption from disclosure of law-enforcement records under the Freedom of Information Act. It permitted a liability suit to proceed against an automobile manufacturer for not installing the safest kind of back-seat passenger restraint. And in a unanimous opinion on Tuesday, the court refused to throw out a lawsuit by investors alleging that a drug manufacturer’s failure to disclose reports that some patients using its cold remedy had lost their sense of smell amounted to securities fraud.

Of course, none of this should be any surprise to a supposedly observant court watcher. Conservatives long have pointed out that these "impressions" have always been myths, perpetrated by the left for its own political ends. Still, even if it's belated, Greenhouse merits thanks for taking the time to write a column devoted exclusively to a fair analysis of the actual record so far this term. She includes this sentence demonstrating some real humility of the right sort (sort of in the spirit of the lamentably late, great David Broder, may he rest in peace):

At the very least, this preliminary snapshot reminds those of us (and I include myself) who think they have taken the court’s measure that assumptions are a poor substitute for close observation.

Yes, close observation is almost always a good habit for a journalist. It is a good thing to see liberal shibboleths exploded by one of the establishment media's leading lights. It is good to see the "conservative" justices start to get their due as people who actually decide upon analysis of the text rather than a determination to reach a predetermined, desired outcome. This has always been true, of course. This Greenhouse column at least opens the door to getting this truth into circulation.

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