Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This & That: 9 zip Edition

Yglesias: Sowell: Obama Will Lead to Sharia

Via Tyler Cowen, Thomas Sowell argues that “Perhaps people who are busy gushing over the Obama cult today might do well to stop and think about what it would mean for their granddaughters to live under sharia law.”

And, yes, that was in National Review the flagship publication of the American right.

John Cole: And Now I Understand the Value of Twitter

No link, no explanation, no discussion, no comments, no backstory. Just the cold, hard facts.

I’ve so far avoided twittering, but I now see the value in it.

  • Joe Klein: Washington Post v. Huffington Post

    I generally agree with Michael Scherer's assessment of the great Wapo-Huffpo faceoff. Too much petulance by both Nico Pitney and Dana Milbank on Howie Kurtz's show. But let's cut to the chase: Pitney is right; Milbank is wrong. Yes, the Obama Administration let Pitney know, in advance, that the President might ask Pitney for a question from the Iranians who were contributing to his (excellent) live-blogging of the crisis. But the Administration didn't ask to know what the question was in advance. And--here's the point--it was a great question, about whether the President would continue to seek negotiations with the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad regime. And Obama ducked the answer.

    It seems to me that the real question here isn't why the Obama Administration solicited a question from the Iranians trying to get their story out via Pitney. The real question is why this has become such a big deal. A good question at a press conference is rare enough. A good question is a good question. Period.

Another Twitter convert:

I officially retract my statement that Twitter has no discernible value - it's awesome for Politico-bashing. That's enough to justify it.

Dougj: A “nine-zip” decision

If by, “nine-zip“, you mean 5-4, then I guess it was.

How many wingnuts will go around talking about the decision being unanimous over the next few days? Will anyone say it on the floor of Congress?

  • Benen: IT WAS A 5-4 SPLIT...
    Everyone knew the Ricci ruling would come down today. It was the last day of the session, and the Supreme Court hadn't issued its decision yet. By mid-day Friday, we knew the ruling would be released early Monday.

    And that, in turn, gave the various players plenty of time to come up with their carefully crafted over-the-top responses. I'm afraid some of the leading conservative activists didn't use the time wisely.

    Wendy Long, head of the Judicial Confirmation Network, which apparently exists for no other reason than to attack Democratic judicial nominees, quickly issued a statement this morning with the headline: "Not Even One Justice Approved Sotomayer In Ricci Case." Yes, even now, Wendy Long can't spell "Sotomayor." The press statement went on to say:

    "Frank Ricci finally got his day in court, despite the judging of Sonia Sotomayor, which all nine Justices of U.S. Supreme Court have now confirmed was in error."

    Soon after, on a Federalist Society conference call with reporters, additional conservative activists emphasized a similar line.

    Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity suggested that the ruling "gives the Senate Judiciary Committee a lot to ask about" and that it brings to light her past statements on this issue.

    He was joined by Gail Heriot, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law in the insistence that each of the nine Justices had rejected Sotomayor's reasoning in her Second Circuit decision.

    There's a variety of problems with all of this, but the most obvious is the fact that the Ricci ruling was 5 to 4, not 9 to 0. Even if Wendy Long & Co. hoped to exploit the ruling to attack Sotomayor -- itself a dubious proposition -- they should have at least checked to see that there was a dissent, endorsed by four justices.

    Raise your hand if you think Long, Clegg, or Heriot actually read all 93 pages of the ruling before sharing their analysis of the decision with reporters.

    And, again, it should be clear by now, but the fact that a narrow Supreme Court majority reached a different conclusion on this case than Sotomayor is not a "rebuke" of the high court nominee. Repeating the line over and over won't make it true.

    Update: Rush Limbaugh also insisted that Ricci was "a nine-zip decision." Is the right so far gone that they can no longer count to four? If someone can explain to me, I'm all ears.

    Second Update: Ah, now I see. Brian Beutler explains that the 10th footnote in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissenting opinion takes issue with a procedural matter from the appeals court. So, for these conservative activists, even the justices who agreed with Sotomayor necessarily disagreed with her, too. It doesn't quite explain Rush calling it "nine-zip," but that's probably the rationale for Long, et al.

  • John Cole: From the Bullshit Factory That is the NRO, That is Where…

    To answer DougJ’s question, Rush got his talking point about 9-0 in a 5-4 ruling from the bullshit factory known as the National Review Online. Ed Whelan took his first stab at 10:52 with a post titled Supreme Court vs. Sotomayor,” Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network and the NRO advances the ball with a post titled Not a Single Justice Agreed with Sotomayor,” language that can be understood even through an oxycontin haze. The Judicial Confirmation Network statement is a gem:

    “Frank Ricci finally got his day in court, despite the judging of Sonia Sotomayor, which all nine Justices of U.S. Supreme Court have now confirmed was in error.

    “Usually, poor performance in any profession is not rewarded with the highest job offer in the entire profession.

    “What Judge Sotomayor did in Ricci was the equivalent of a pilot error resulting in a bad plane crash. And now the pilot is being offered to fly Air Force One.

    “The firefighters in New Haven who protect the public safety and worked hard for their promotions did not deserve to become victims of racial quotas, and the Supreme Court has now confirmed that they did not deserve to have their claims buried and thrown out by Judge Sotomayor.”

    Then to drive the point home for the dimmer bulbs in the blogosphere, now that Dan Bartlett isn’t around to circulate the official notes for bloggers to “regurgitate,” at 1:52 pm Whelan belched up a post titled Re: 9-0 Against Sotomayor.”

    And there you have it. A 5-4 split decision along liberal/conservative lines has been transmogrified, with the mystical powers of right-wing bullshit, into a 9-0 decision against Sotomayor. The Wurlitzer lives. I challenge you to count the number of times this is repeated on Hardball or Fox news tonight, since I am going to be out hiking with the dog.

    And has Jeffrey Rosen ever told us if Wendy Long, who was a clerk on the 2nd Circuit, was one of his “sources” for his hit piece on Sotomayor? I’d really like to know.

    *** Update ***

    See also, this. And this.

  • Greenwald

    (1) In light of today's ruling, it's a bit difficult -- actually, impossible -- for a rational person to argue that Sotomayor's Ricci decision places her outside the judicial mainstream when: (a) she was affirming the decision of the federal district court judge; (b) she was joined in her decision by the two other Second Circuit judges who, along with her, comprised a unanimous panel; (c) a majority of Second Circuit judges refused to reverse that panel's ruling; and now: (d) four out of the nine Supreme Court Justices -- including the ones she is to replace -- agree with her.

    Put another way, 11 out of the 21 federal judges to rule on Ricci ruled as Sotomayor did. It's perfectly reasonable to argue that she ruled erroneously, but it's definitively unreasonable to claim that her Ricci ruling places her on some sort of judicial fringe.

    (2) The irony of using Ricci against Sotomayor has always been that the reason this case resonates for so many people is due to empathy for the white firefighters. That irony is underscored by today's ruling, as Justice Kennedy devotes multiple paragraphs at the beginning of his opinion to highlighting all of the facts (as opposed to legal arguments) which make people sympathetic to Ricci. Conversely, Justice Ginsburg, writing for the dissenters, noted upfront that the white firefighters "understandably attract this Court's sympathy," but it must be the law -- i.e., long-standing legal precedent and the purpose of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act -- which determines the outcome.

    From the start, those protesting Sotomayor's decision in Ricci did so by appealing not to law, but to emotion, non-legal precepts of "fairness" and empathy -- at the very same time that those very same people mocked the notion that those considerations should play any role in judicial decision-making.

    (3) For all the chatter about "judicial activism" and that dreadful Roberts metaphor of "a neutral umpire calling balls and strikes," it is so striking how frequently conservative judges invalidate policies which conservatives dislike as a political matter. Here we have the conservative wing of the Court declaring illegal the employment decisions of local government officials, who used a political approach -- diversity -- which conservatives dislike on policy grounds. So often, the outcomes of the allegedly neutral conservative judges are completely consistent with (and aggressively advance) the political preferences of conservatives (Bush v. Gore being only the most obvious example). Indeed, few things are rarer than conservatives Justices invalidating policies that conservatives like politically, or upholding policies they despise -- the true test for whether one applies the law independently of political and outcome preferences.

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