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L. Brent Bozell
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Glorifying "Great" Liberal Judges

Comment

America was founded on the principle of representative democracy: The government would make policy based on the consent of the governed. Liberal elitists have grown increasingly impatient with this unenlightened system, and more and more, they are relying on judicial activists to remake society in their desired image. Far from being tribunes of the people, these judges are honored by the media elite for going around public opinion — and the Constitution — whenever the liberal impulse beckons.

CBS's "60 Minutes" earned the title "Syrupy Minutes" on Nov. 28 with a thoroughly one-sided tribute to the "great" liberal Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, with a focus on how this "great" man publicly suggested George W. Bush was a tyrant.

Scott Pelley hailed how Stevens had "shaped more American history than any Supreme Court justice alive." He especially underlined how liberals see Stevens' opinions on the rights of terrorist suspects as "among the most important of his career." The detention center at Guantanamo Bay is a legal and political mess. One could easily blame the "historic" Justice Stevens; CBS lauds him.

Pelley made no bones of his biases, tossing the softball to Stevens: "There is one inscription and one inscription only above the door to this building." Stevens replied: "Equal Justice Under Law." Pelley continued: "And that applies to foreign nationals who may wish to do this country harm?" Stevens argued: "If they're to be prosecuted for crimes, they're entitled to a fair trial or fair procedures." How comforting.

Pelley highlighted the case of "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla, lamenting how the court's majority "dismissed Padilla's appeal on a technicality," but the heroic "Stevens and three other justices had wanted to rule on Padilla's detention. Stevens aimed his dissent at the Bush administration, writing, 'If this nation is to remain true to the ideals symbolized by its flag, it must not wield the tools of tyrants.'"

Stevens clearly warmed the hearts at CBS News. But they also chopped off the end of his quote. Justice Stevens wrote, "it must not wield the tools of tyrants even to resist an assault by the forces of tyranny." The rights of "forces of tyranny" outweigh the "tools of tyrants," even democratically elected ones? It's outbursts like this that made Stevens a perpetual minority in the public conversation.

Instead of turning to conservative justices for a little balance, CBS turned to fellow liberal Justice David Souter for continuous hosannas.

Pelley asked about the Stevens "tools of tyrants" dissent: "How important was that?" Souter declared: "It's as fundamental as any decision that's been made that I can think of on a citizen's liberty in my lifetime."

That's not enough. Pelley lofted another softball: "And it was Justice Stevens who stood up and said, 'Wait a minute, this has gone too far.' ... He rendered a service to the country in those opinions?" Souter replied: "That made him one of the great judges." Gotcha.

The tiny detail left out of this narrative is that the Stevens dissent didn't really change history. In 2007, after being sent to civilian courts, Padilla was convicted of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people and sentenced to 17 years in prison. Pelley acknowledged to Stevens that most Americans wouldn't agree that granting the broadest menu of civil liberties (and rights to lawsuits) for terrorist suspects like Padilla is desirable, let alone a hallowed moment in American history.

But Pelley also painted Stevens as a hero in trying to remake election returns, dissenting from the Supreme Court decision that allowed Evil Bush to win in 2000. Stevens explained he saw the case as open-and-shut for more Gore recounts. Pelley insisted, "There were many people in this country who felt that the Supreme Court stole that election for President Bush. That was the accusation that was made ... Was the decision of the court a partisan decision?" Stevens would not question the motives of his colleagues, but called them "profoundly wrong."

Why can't Pelley freely admit there isn't a soul at CBS who doesn't believe Bush stole the election?

CBS was not alone in touting wonderful liberal Supreme Court heroes on the long Thanksgiving weekend. On Black Friday, NPR legal correspondent Nina Totenberg offered her tribute to the ultraliberal William Brennan, insisting, "For those not familiar with Brennan's incredible record, let us recapitulate." She quoted National Review as saying no individual "on or off the court" had a more profound impact on America than Brennan — utterly excluding from her report the itty-bitty point that NR found it revolting that a judge would reign supreme over our public policy.

The Totenbergs and Pelleys of journalism really ought to recuse themselves from covering the high court. They are so biased they'd get kicked out of anyone's jury pool.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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