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June 24, 2004
AP: SCOTUS Divided Into Conservatives And "Moderates"

In an otherwise dry report on an esoteric Supreme Court ruling, the AP injects a little bit of bias into the story. In describing the split court on the 5-4 decision to deny the appeal of death-row prisoners sentenced to death by judges rather than jurors prior to the SCOTUS ruling against such processes, reporter Gina Holland notes:

Chief Justice H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas agreed with Scalia.

On the other side were four of the court's more moderate justices [emph. mine -- CE]: John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

In fact, only Souter among these could reasonably be described as a moderate, and most observers consider O'Connor and Kennedy the moderates at the Supreme Court. Stevens and Ginsburg have always been unabashed liberal activists on the bench, and Breyer only somewhat less so. As we have seen so often, the "moderates" in fact determined the outcome of this case, a decision with which I disagree, mostly because I oppose the death penalty anyway.

In order to see the liberal trio as "moderates", one has to be approaching the bench from the far left. Not only is the description completely incorrect, it's irrelevant and superfluous. One has to wonder what Holland's editor was thinking.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 24, 2004 2:18 PM

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