Patterico's Pontifications


Eason Jordan

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 1:02 pm

I was snowed under when the latest Eason Jordan story broke, and haven’t commented on it until now. Captain Ed seems to have it pretty well covered. I agree with Jay Rosen: since there apparently is a tape of Jordan’s remarks, let’s wait for Sisyphus (or someone) to obtain the tape, and let’s see what it says. But major media outlets should be investigating this; let’s hope they are.

Comments Working

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 12:49 pm

In case any of you tried posting comments over the past few days, and had problems, the problem has been fixed. With the switch to WordPress, I had all comments going into moderation automatically. They have all been approved, and the problem has been fixed.

Nobody was banned — not even m.croche.

There is still much to be done, but this particular issue is resolved, so comment away.

UPDATE: The “Recent Comments” feature is working again as well.

Judge to Newspaper Editors: “Please Quote This!”

Filed under: Court Decisions — Patterico @ 12:24 pm

I am suspicious of judicial rulings whose opening paragraphs seem to say: “Please quote this in the newspaper!” Citizens reading such rulings cannot be blamed for suspecting that the judge is more interested in the approval of elite opinionmakers than in applying the law.

I remember thinking this in 1997, when a Massachusetts Superior Court Judge reduced the conviction of au pair Louise Woodward to involuntary manslaughter, in an order that began:

The law, John Adams told a Massachusetts jury while defending British citizens on trial for murder, is inflexible, inexorable, and deaf: inexorable to the cries of the defendant; “deaf as an adder to the clamours of the populace.” His words ring true, 227 years later. Elected officials may consider popular urging and sway to public opinion polls. Judges must follow their oaths and do their duty, heedless of editorials, letters, telegrams, picketers, threats, petitions, panelists, and talk shows. In this country, we do not administer justice by plebiscite. A judge, in short, is a public servant who must follow his conscience, whether or not he counters the manifest wishes of those he serves; whether or not his decision seems a surrender to the prevalent demands; as long as the editors of the New York Times support his decision.

Okay, I made up that last phrase. But the fact is that judges often don’t care about the opinion of the unwashed masses, but they do care, deeply, about being criticized by newspaper editors — in particular the editors of the New York Times. And I don’t think it was just coincidence that this particular judge’s conscience happened to coincide with the views of those editors, who ran an editorial praising the judge’s decision. The opening paragraph quoted above (minus the bogus last phrase) was written for them, to be quoted by them.

And so it is with yesterday’s ruling invalidating a New York law banning same-sex marriage. The opinion, by Judge Doris Ling-Cohan, begins with high-flown rhetoric that characterizes the entire order:

From the literary references of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, to the anti-miscegenation laws of this country’s recent past barring interracial marriage, the freedom to choose whom to marry has consistently been the subject of public outcry and controversy. In fact, ironically, the parents of one of the named plaintiffs were, themselves, barred from marrying each other by an anti-miscegenation law that made it illegal for interracial couples to marry.

As with the beginning of the au pair ruling, when the judge wrote this language, it is transparently clear that she sought to be quoted in the newspaper. This is not judicial language. Nor is this:

The partners in each couple have been devoted to one another for periods ranging from three (3) to twenty-two (22) years and represent the rich diversity of New York.

I’m not 100% certain of almost anything. I don’t know that the sun will rise tomorrow. Nukes could explode across the planet, extinguishing humanity. Or it could just be cloudy. But I do know this for certain: Judge Doris Ling-Cohan, with her high-toned rhetoric about “the rich diversity of New York,” did not vote for George W. Bush.

I should not be able to tell that from a judicial opinion. But I can.

I have said many times that I do not have a problem with the concept of gay marriage. But I do have a problem with its being dictated by a single partisan Democrat judge, issuing a ruling that she hopes to have praised by the opinion elite, and quoted in New York Times editorials.

UPDATE: Even Jack Balkin is puzzled by the reasoning of the decision — and he is a lefty extraordinaire. I should know. I took Constitutional Law from him. (Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE x2: Welcome to Instapundit readers! Thanks to Professor Reynolds for the (unexpected) link.

For what it’s worth, I am very definitely a former (not current) student of Prof. Balkin’s, since I took Con Law from him in 1991.

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