Patterico's Pontifications

3/11/2004

ANOTHER GINSBURG CONTROVERSY?

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:16 pm

Via comments at “Oh, That Liberal Media” comes a link to an interesting post about another potentially controversial event attended by Justice Ginsburg.

The commenter, Gary Imhoff, says:

On April 15, 2003, while the Michigan affirmative action cases were pending before her court, Justice Ginsburg attended an event honoring Lee Bollinger, the former Dean of the U. of Mich. Law School who had just been named president of Columbia University, at which Bollinger made a speech essentially laying out his case.

According to the post’s author, Justice Ginsburg had a front-row seat for Bollinger’s talk during which he extolled affirmative action. Here is the full description of the reception:

Last night, Dorothy and I attended a reception for Columbia University alumni. (Dorothy attended graduate school there.) The event was the introduction of the new president of Columbia, Lee C. Bollinger. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who got her LL.B. from Columbia University Law School, was a featured guest at the event, and sat in the front row for Bollinger’s address.

Bollinger took the occasion to promote his position in favor of affirmative action. I found two things about this event interesting. First, Bollinger had at least two obvious applause lines in the affirmative action section of his speech, but, by my observation at least, only about a third of the audience applauded either time. (I couldn’t see Justice Ginsburg to determine if she applauded or abstained.) Second, given that the University of Michigan affirmative action case, Gratz v. Bollinger, is currently under consideration by the Supreme Court, does anyone else find it unseemly either that Bollinger would take this occasion to address a Supreme Court Justice about it, or that a sitting Supreme Court Justice would attend an event to honor the defendant in a case that she is currently deciding? Since Bollinger is the former Dean of the University of Michigan Law School who is the named defendant in the Michigan case, and since the case hinges on actions that Bollinger personally took, ordered, or approved of, does anyone else think that either person’s behavior went beyond unseemly to unethical?

I am not a legal ethics expert, and I don’t know if this is a significant issue or not. However, I can certainly see an argument that a Supreme Court Justice ought not attend a function honoring a defendant in a pending case, at which the defendant makes a speech which supports his position in that case.

Thanks to Gary Imhoff for the tip. I have passed this along to the folks at the Los Angeles Times. We’ll see what, if anything, comes of it.

(Cross-posted at Oh, That Liberal Media.)

Ted Rall: Patterico is a “Generic Warblogger!”

Filed under: Morons — Patterico @ 8:58 pm

In this whiny post, Ted Rall calls me a “generic warblogger.” Rall also blatantly misquotes an observation I made the other day, in my post titled “Ted Rall, Crybaby.” According to Rall, I said:

I don’t have any right to have my speech printed in the New York Times and neither does Rall.

What I actually said was this:

I don’t have any right to have my speech printed in the New York Times, and I haven’t even made fun of the families of murder victims.

To remind you what I am talking about, here is the cartoon in which Rall mocked widows of terror victims. Particularly vile is his portrayal of Danny Pearl’s widow Marianne Pearl, as a publicity-seeking woman who frivolously says: “Of course it’s a bummer that they slashed my husband’s throat — but the worst was having to watch the Olympics alone!”

Words cannot express how contemptible this is.

After misquoting me in his post from today, Rall then bloviates:

Of course, no one has the “right” to be published anywhere. But only a simpleton, or a right-wing blogger typing in his parents’ basement in Tennessee, would fail to see the danger to a free media in an editor who caves into rank political pressure when making editing decisions. An independent press must be responsive to its readers, but that doesn’t mean running scared of a creator some 13 years after you started running his work because some people oppose his politics. If opinion mongers have to worry about getting fired every time they venture off the political mean, the next thing you know, the entire op-ed page will be covered with nothing but bland, middle-of-the-road moderates.

Sorry, dude, but your bid to make yourself into some kind of First Amendment hero just doesn’t wash. You penned the single most disgusting, repulsive editorial cartoon most people have ever seen, by a longshot — at least in this country. And then you paid the price. End of story. Stop whining already.

There is a difference between venturing off the political mean, and mocking the survivors of murder victims. And I think deep down, you realize this — which is why you didn’t bother to quote me accurately.

P.S. I hardly ever blog about the war.

Extra! Blogger Gets Results

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:28 am

On the one hand, I have to hand it to the Los Angeles Times. They have run a front-page story about Justice Ginsburg’s speech to the NOW Legal Defense Fund.

On the other hand, why did I have to be the one to tell them about it?

The other day, when the Times ran a story about Justice Scalia’s having spoken before an advocacy group, I told you here that Justice Ginsburg had done substantially the same thing in January. I explained that the experts’ criticisms of Justice Scalia’s speech applied equally to Justice Ginsburg’s speech. I noted the fact that the group before which she had spoken had filed an amicus brief in a case on which she had ruled just 15 days before the speech.

I also told you that I had sent an e-mail to the Times‘s “Reader’s Representative” about Justice Ginsburg’s speech. In a subsequent post, I explained that I didn’t really expect the Times to do anything about it.

I was wrong.

The next day, the Reader’s Representative sent me an e-mail saying that she would forward my e-mail to the national desk editors immediately. I will admit that I was skeptical that it would go anywhere. I then received an e-mail from Richard Serrano, one of the co-authors of the Scalia story and of today’s Ginsburg story, asking me for details. I sent Serrano links to the relevant Supreme Court decision, and to the NOW web page in which they boasted of having filed an amicus brief in the case.

Serrano said they would follow up on it, but I still didn’t think anything would happen. I believed that Serrano was looking into the story, but I just didn’t think the editors would print it. When I described the e-mails to my wife, she said to me: “Now you’re picking on poor Ruth.” I said: “Oh, come on, they’re not going to run anything on it.”

But, to its credit, the Times has run the story, quoting the same experts they quoted for the Scalia story.

I have mixed feelings. I don’t know that either speech was really a big deal, in my opinion. I don’t think the Times really should have picked on Ruth or Nino. But if they’re going to run one story, they have to run the other. That much seemed obvious.

I am pleased that the Times has recognized that fact.

But the obvious question still remains: why did the Times not independently look into whether other Justices had done this sort of thing? Wasn’t there someone on the paper who was eager to investigate the liberal Justices as well as the most conservative one? Why did they wait until the issue was stuck right in front of their nose?

Why did I have to be the one to tell them about it?

(Cross-posted at Oh, That Liberal Media.)

UPDATE: A commenter at “Oh, That Liberal Media” says that it was “bad form to critique them for any portion of their having run the story” and that I should simply have said “well done” and leave it at that.

I disagree, for the sake of accuracy, if nothing else. If I had simply praised them, without explaining that I had tipped them off, that would have left the impression that the paper’s reporters dug up this story on their own. The fact is, they didn’t. And the fact that they didn’t is troubling to me, for the reasons expressed above.

However, it may be worth re-emphasizing: I am impressed with the Times for running this story. It’s considerably more than I expected. I have to admit that I was shocked when I saw the story. The reporters called the same experts they had called for the Scalia story, and elicited the same opinions. The paper’s editors gave the story appropriate prominence: above the fold on the front page. I do think the reporters and editors deserve our respect for having been intellectually honest about this. If I didn’t make that clear before, I hope I am doing so now.

UPDATE x2: I hope new readers bookmark this site, and then pay a visit to Kevin Murphy’s site. If I recall correctly, I first heard about Justice Ginsburg’s speech several weeks ago, at Kevin’s site.


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