Jonathan Turley has an op-ed about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts in this morning’s Los Angeles Times. The op-ed turns out to be not only silly, but factually wrong to boot.
[I]n a meeting last week, [Judge John G.] Roberts briefly lifted the carefully maintained curtain over his personal views. In so doing, he raised a question that could not only undermine the White House strategy for confirmation but could raise a question of his fitness to serve as the 109th Supreme Court justice.
The exchange occurred during one of Roberts’ informal discussions with senators last week. According to two people who attended the meeting, Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral. Roberts is a devout Catholic and is married to an ardent pro-life activist. The Catholic Church considers abortion to be a sin, and various church leaders have stated that government officials supporting abortion should be denied religious rites such as communion. (Pope Benedict XVI is often cited as holding this strict view of the merging of a person’s faith and public duties).
Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.
It was the first unscripted answer in the most carefully scripted nomination in history. It was also the wrong answer.
Turley wrote that two people who attended the meeting said Roberts was asked by Durbin what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considered immoral.
“Roberts … answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself,” Turley wrote.
Durbin’s office had no immediate comment, but later in the day a spokesman said the column was wrong.
It seems that editors did not bother to fact-check the assertion that was the entire premise of Turley’s piece.
Which leads to an interesting contrast. The guidelines for running an “Outside the Tent” piece, which is critical of the paper, state the following:
These pieces must deal with facts and be supported by evidence. Reasoned opinion is fine. Please don’t repeat rumors or offer speculation on matters that can’t readily be verified with a reasonable degree of certainty.
Evidently the L.A. Times imposes a higher standard for criticism of the paper than it does for criticism of John Roberts.
In any event, Turley’s op-ed was silly to begin with. The reasons are set forth in the extended entry.