Wednesday, July 03, 2002

NY Times and others complain about a right-wing shift on the Supreme Court. But the most dramatic shifts from precedent this year were in the left-wing direction. The Court completely reversed a 10-year-old precedent on the death penalty and created a new legal principle that resulted in releasing hundreds of prisoners from death row. The principle was grounded more in opinion polls than in any law. Here are some other silly statements from the NY Times editorial.

The voucher case was undeniably the bombshell of the court's 2001-2002 term.

The decision was a logical consequence of prior decisions, and was expected. The Cleveland voucher plan survived the strictest tests for religious neutrality.

The court also struck a blow for another cherished conservative cause, states' rights.

State's rights is not a conservative cause. At issue was the 11th Amendment, and the binding precedent was from 1890. Ruling the other way would have completely eviscerated the 11th Amendment. If the NY Times doesn't like the 11th Amendment, then it should lobby for an amendment to repeal it.

The court was at its most progressive this term in First Amendment cases, in which even conservative justices often sided with free-speech plaintiffs.

And all the liberal justices voted against free speech in the Minnesota election case. (See prior comments on this case.) The NY Times just doesn't want to admit that the conservatives want more free speech than the liberals.

Update: Law professor and blogger Volokh has rated the Supreme Court judges on free speech issues. Kennedy is in favor of free speech the most, and Breyer the least.

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