There is plenty of misleading tripe in David Savage’s L.A. Times front-page obituary of Chief Justice Rehnquist, which starts with this little white lie:
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who steered the Supreme Court on a more conservative course during more than 33 years on the bench and who presided over the impeachment trial of one president and helped elect another, died Saturday at his home in Arlington, Va.
Yup, more of that leftist mythology as fact. Never mind the fact that Bush would have won, Supreme Court intervention or no. That little fact makes it kind of hard to argue that Rehnquist helped elect Bush. But such arguments, being factually based, carry no weight in L.A. Times-land. The article gives a more detailed, and equally misleading, account of Bush v. Gore later on:
At issue was whether the Florida Supreme Court’s interpretation of state law would prevail. On Dec. 8, its judges ordered a statewide hand recount of the remaining untabulated ballots. Then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush had a lead of about 500 votes in the Florida tally, and he would win the presidency if that margin were preserved. But a hand tally of paper ballots that were rejected by the tabulating machines might have tipped the lead to the Democratic candidate, Vice President Al Gore.
Even Paul Freaking Krugman recently admitted that, had the Supreme Court not stepped in, Bush would probably have won — because of Al Gore’s flawed strategy. Only a hypothetical recount in an alternate universe — in which Gore spurned the cheap partisan advantages he actually sought in the real world — could possibly have won the day for Gore.
More deception follows immediately:
With the chief justice leading the way, the high court on a 5-4 vote ordered a halt to the recount at midday on Dec. 9. And on Dec. 12, the Supreme Court, in an unsigned opinion, ended the recount by declaring it unconstitutional. The conservative majority could not agree on a clear reason for the ruling. Rehnquist wrote that the state court’s interpretation of state election law was “absurd” and could be overturned by the high court on the grounds that it fundamentally revised the law after the election. Scalia and Thomas agreed with this view.
Apparently, Justices Kennedy and O’Connor did not. Without signing their names to the ruling, they offered an opinion saying the count violated the Constitution’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” because it allowed for disputed ballots to be treated differently in the various counties of Florida.
Four justices issued sharp dissents, saying the court should not have intervened and the recount should have continued.
The implication: only five justices agreed with the equal protection argument. Wrong! It was seven. But who’s counting? Not David Savage or his editors, that’s for sure.
The theme of the entire article is that the Rehnquist Court was unerringly conservative:
Under his leadership, the court restored the death penalty, allowed more public funding for religious schools and pulled back from the frontiers of civil rights and individual liberties.
Interesting, how Lawrence v. Texas is a pullback from the frontiers of civil rights and individual liberties. That decision, and numerous other liberal decisions from the Rehnquist court, are not mentioned in the article, allowing Savage to portray the Rehnquist era as far more conservative than it actually was. Recent terms had conservatives pulling their hair out in frustration, but Savage tells us nothing of the decisions that inspired such outrage on the right.
For example, the Court issued unprecedented rulings banning imposition of the death penalty for retarded defendants and juveniles. This is not mentioned. Instead, on the death penalty, Savage says:
The court regularly rejected challenges to the death penalty and made it easier for states to carry out executions.
All in all, an utterly misleading and left-leaning piece. In other words, par for the course.