Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Chief Justice is dead and the A.P. writes the story from the left 

William Rehquist has died of thyroid cancer. The A.P.'s obviously pre-written obit is only a slightly useful starting point. It is repleat with the usual MSM snarkiness, leading with Rehnquist's vote in Bush v. Gore and summarizing Rehnquist's judicial philosophy as follows:
Rehnquist leaves without accomplishing the legal revolution he had hoped for as the nation's 16th chief justice. As Rehnquist read it, the Constitution lets states outlaw abortion and sponsor prayers in public schools but bars them from giving special, affirmative-action preferences to racial minorities and women. The court he led disagreed.

In 2003, for example, the court preserved affirmative action in college admissions and issued a landmark gay rights ruling that struck down laws criminalizing gay sex, both over Rehnquist's objections. And last year, Rehnquist disagreed when the court ruled that the government cannot indefinitely detain terrorism suspects and deny them access to courts.

And then there's this:
The chief justice has been the leader of five conservatives, sometimes called "the Rehnquist five," who generally advocate limited federal government interference.

Those five — Rehnquist and O'Connor, Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Thomas — have voted together to strike down federal laws intended to protect female victims of violent crime and keep guns away from schools, on grounds that those issues were better dealt with at the local level. They split, however, in a recent decision upholding the federal government's right to ban sick people from smoking marijuana even in states that have laws allowing the treatment.

The Rehnquist five were together in the Bush v. Gore decision, which critics predicted would tarnish the court's hard-won luster.

Huh. I had never heard the term "the Rehnquist five." No wonder: If you Google "Rehnquist five" you get a grand total of 186 hits (as of this Googling), most from palpably left-wing sites such as Democratic Underground. To get a sense of how rare this is on Google, compare it to the search for "Keating five" (for you kids, a reference to a savings and loan scandal dating years before the World Wide Web even existed) which yields 7330 hits. While it is therefore technically true that these five justices are "sometimes called the Rehnquist five," it is substantively true that this phrase is largely left-wing jargon. I suppose we should not be surprised that the Associated Press would research its canned obituary on manifestly anti-Rehnquist web sites, but it is disappointing nevertheless.


By Blogger kschlenker, at Sun Sep 04, 09:12:00 AM:

I Googled the writer of the obit; Gina Holland. Most of her stories are written in left and far left terminology. Typical for the AP.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 04, 09:21:00 AM:

I googled "the A.P. sucks", and got about the same number of hits as "the Rehnquist five". So, I guess the A.P. sucks.  

By Blogger Rossputin, at Sun Sep 04, 09:45:00 AM:

I believe we're going to see some truly embarrassing behavior by the Democrats, especially the left-wing of the party, as they need to act like America-hating idiots in order to raise money from their activist constituencies who are America-hating idiots.

see my piece on Rehnquist's passing at

By Blogger Nonjatta, at Sun Sep 04, 10:02:00 AM:

But is it "the Rehnquist 5" a useful way of thinking about the reality on the court? I don't know but it is ideological to dismiss the categorisation on the basis of the source from which it comes from. It seems manifestly true to say that Rehnquist did not achieve a revolution, even though that revolution may be in the offing. It is also true rather than snarkiness to describe Rehnquist's judicial philosophy in the way the report did. The juxtaposition should provoke thought rather than defensiveness.  

By Blogger Weyrwoman, at Sun Sep 04, 11:07:00 AM:

It is no less disturbing that most of the "reporting" going on in the major media these days and not unexpected considering how they feel about the Supreme Court. It makes me sick that ANYONE could take ANYTHING the major media says seriously. They aren't changing anyone's minds, only preaching to the kooky chior.  

By Blogger Silicon Valley Jim, at Sun Sep 04, 11:07:00 AM:

But is it "the Rehnquist 5" a useful way of thinking about the reality on the court?

The praise that has been heaped on Sandra Day O'Connor's head for the past month or so by Democrats is ample evidence that it is not a useful way. For better or worse, her judicial philosophy was clearly not that of Justices Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas, not that there aren't (or, in the case of CJ Rehnquist, weren't) important differences among those three.  

By Blogger Ron Coleman, at Sun Sep 04, 12:11:00 PM:

It's simply absurd to characterize Rhenquist as "the leader of five conservatives ... who generally advocate limited federal government interference." You simply can't be following Supreme Court jurisprudence and say that.  

By Blogger DaveS, at Sun Sep 04, 02:17:00 PM:

kschelnker, picking up where you left off..

Searches of "Rehnquist 5" and "Rehnquist five" combined yeild 352 results.

Enough to note in an internationally syndicated article? Maybe.

Searches for "biased AP" and "AP bias" yeilds roughly 2600 results, or 8 times the number of references to the "Rehnquist 5".

A search for "AP hack" yields 374 results, slightly more references than those to "Rehnquist 5".

A search of "AP" + "left-wing news" gives 411 results.

Do they *really* want to go there?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 04, 02:35:00 PM:

Where other than the left did you think a story from the MSM/DNC might come? Rathergate got the America haters in the MSM/DNC to tone it down for maybe half a year. But they came back with a vengence this Spring, or have you forgotten Gitmo = Gulag. Have you been off the planet this week? Look at the ugly America stories about N.O. Hundres of 'em . Right out of the early 1950's.Starting on Mon and continuing to Sat.America haters are as active in the MSM/DNC as they were in 1952, or 1974. The Oct to Mar period was an anomaly not to be repeated for some time.  

By Blogger MrSurly, at Sun Sep 04, 03:06:00 PM:

A couple of thoughts and observations:

1) In my experience, the press generally are both lazy and stupid and therefore don't really write in a very critical manner. News gotta go out everyday -- no time to question anything. Liberal bias tends to sneak into MSM all the time because MSM is dominated by the left reporters who believe their way is righteous -- that's just the way it and how most news is reported. Additionally, I don't think the "A-team" in the news room is preparing obits to begin with.

2) There is no "Rehnquist 5". Never has been. No such thing. That's just really bad reporting, because any casual observer of SCOTUS knows that Kennedy and O'Connor are well known "swing votes" who often take a moderate position differing from the true conservatives on the Court -- Rehnquist, Thomas and Scalia. To group O'Connor and Kennedy with Rehnquist is at best a gross over-simplication. For example, O'Connor wrote the majority opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger, the college admissions affirmative action case mentioned in the article (A shame that case went the wrong way -- I had hoped the case would end affirmative action so that the nation could possibly begin to move beyond the culture of entitlement that has hampered race relations in the U.S. Additionally, we live in a country where the civil rights of a few trump the civil liberties of all. End of digression.).

3) Had the story been truly fair it would have placed more emphasis on fact that the Rehnquist court gave new life to federalism and state's rights and and more importantly what that MEANS -- less big government imposing its will on states and individuals. There are haphazard references to state's rights without any analysis of what Rehnquist was trying to achieve. That's just sloppy writing.  

By Blogger Svolich, at Sun Sep 04, 04:16:00 PM:

"In my experience, the press generally are both lazy and stupid and therefore don't really write in a very critical manner."


I've done corporate PR in a crisis a couple of times. If you give them the story you want them to run, nicely packaged with all the visuals ready, 90% of the time they'll play it intact. Just have your "experts" standing by to comment.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 04, 06:06:00 PM:

You could hardly imagine the AP, of all the sources of information, writing the story from any other place than the left could you?

The only credibility that the AP has is the credibility we allow it to have. Stop reading it, stop repeating it, stop caring about it.

The AP wrote the article from its typical DNC spoon-fed tripe. We shouldn't actually be surprised.

If you are looking for journalism go anywhere BUT the AP.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Sep 04, 07:34:00 PM:

[i]But is it "the Rehnquist 5" a useful way of thinking about the reality on the court?[/i]


Especially no, when you consider what the obituary says about Judge Rehnquist. Let's see, it says he believes one way, yet the majority of the court voted against him in several "landmark" decisions. Unless I'm wrong and there are 11 justices on the court, at least one of the Rehnquist 5 doesn't belong.

Of course, to figure that out requires one to think, rather than just take the AP story at face value and assume its terminology is based on reality.  

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