Bias Watch: The @LATimes and “Reagan administration lawyers”

Posted by: ST on April 1, 2012 at 1:23 pm

A headline from today’s LA Times reads (hat tip):

Signs of Supreme Court activism worry Reagan administration lawyers

Advocates of judicial restraint say conservative justices should be wary of the impulse to strike down the healthcare law passed by Congress.

From reading that, we find that the LA Times is not concerned with potential judicial activism coming from any of the more liberal members of SCOTUS, but instead that of Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Alito and Thomas – and their concerns are supposed to be given credence by the referencing of two, count ’em, two “Reagan administration lawyers” … lawyers who you would assume, based on the mention of REAGAN, would be conservative Republicans. From the piece:

WASHINGTON — When the incoming Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. came before the Senate for confirmation seven years ago, President Reagan’s solicitor general gave him a warm endorsement as a “careful, modest” judge.

“He’s not a man on a mission,” Harvard Law professor Charles Fried testified, adding that Roberts was not likely “to embark on constitutional adventures.”

But two years ago, the Roberts-led Supreme Court struck down the federal and state laws that for a century had barred corporations and unions from pouring money into election campaigns.

And last week, the court’s conservatives, including Roberts, suggested they may well strike down President Obama’s healthcare law as unconstitutional. If so, it would be the first time since 1936 that the Supreme Court voided a major federal regulatory law.

After the healthcare arguments, Fried was among those who worried aloud about the prospect of the Roberts court embarking on a new era of judicial activism.

If the court were to invalidate the healthcare law, “It would be more problematic than Bush v. Gore,” Fried said in an interview, referring to the case that decided the 2000 presidential race. “It would be plainly at odds with precedent, and plainly in conflict with what several of the justices have said before.”

His comments highlight a growing divide between an earlier generation of judicial conservatives who stressed a small role for the courts in deciding national controversies and many of today’s conservative justices who are more inclined to rein in the government.


Pepperdine law professor Douglas W. Kmiec, another top Justice Department lawyer under Reagan, said he hoped the justices would “come to their senses” and uphold the law as a reasonable regulation of interstate commerce.

The inference here is: If conservative Republicans from the Reagan years are concerned about conservative judicial activism, we should all be REALLY WORRIED!

Only problem here is the LA Times didn’t bother to note that both Fried and Kmiec are hardly considered “conservatives” any more (if in fact they ever were) and endorsed Obama in 2008 until several paragraphs down in the story after, I suspect, many casual readers reading it would have lost interest beyond the glaring headline and first few paragraphs.

Karl at Patterico’s Pontifications points out:

David Bernstein correctly notes a more accurate title for this page one propaganda would be “Lawyers Who Voted for Obama Want his Health Care Law to be Upheld“:

It turns out that the only “Reagan Administration lawyers” they are able to quote are Charles Fried and Doug Kmiec, both of whom quite publicly endorsed candidate Obama in 2008.  Kmiec, in fact, was rewarded with an ambassadorship for his service.

As for Fried, one of his former constitutional law students, Dan McLaughlin, observes:

It is fair and accurate to describe Prof. Fried as a former Reagan official and former member of the GOP legal establishment. But it is deeply misleading to suggest that he speaks today for some element of mainstream thought on the Right, or to tout his views on Obamacare without presenting to readers his support for Obama, his effective divorce from the modern GOP, and the extreme nature of his views on the government’s ability to make you buy broccoli.

Also, we’re supposed to believe that the only “experts” the LAT could find on the issue of judicial activism in and of itself on the SCOTUS were “Reagan-era lawyers concerned about conservative judicial activism”?

I worry about “judicial activism”, too.  I also worry about mainstream media activism. Thanks, LA Times, for the reminder.

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6 Responses to “Bias Watch: The @LATimes and “Reagan administration lawyers””


  1. Phineas says:

    Guess it was too hard for them to find Ed Meese or Robert Bork.


    But two years ago, the Roberts-led Supreme Court struck down the federal and state laws that for a century had barred corporations and unions from pouring money into election campaigns.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that the same mistake Obama made in his State of the Union attack on the SCOTUS over the Citizens United decision? Why, yes. Yes it is.

    Top-notch journalism there, LAT. l-)

  2. TexasMom2012 says:

    Unions were not banned from political ads prior to Citizens United while corporations were prohibited from political ads that advocated their position.

  3. Geo says:

    ST: The libs are softening the impact area for the eventual ruling.

    When the “proud latina woman” sits there and expresses her concerns on the possibilities of a child being turn away from a emergency room without treatment . . . you just gotto stop and reflect on the opposition sitting in judgement. And another states “why can’t we just trust Congresses judgement on this”. It’s all you hafta know.

    Kinda scary!

    Their cohorts in the msm are bailing water for them. It’s the only time libs believe in “someone taking responsibility”, even when they have the facts wrong [as usual].

  4. Mitch says:

    When you control the media, you control almost everything else in the country by default.

  5. Carlos says:

    OK, so what did Roe v. Wade toss out? Most of a century of jurisprudence? Or Kelo? A couple of centuries?

    Seems to me the only time progfrogs* are concerned with precedence is when it is to overturn something that overturned decades or centuries of precedence before…

    *A progfrog is one who constantly belches the same thing incessantly, same sound, same pitch, never wavering, and it doesn’t make a lick of sense unless one is looking for a mate of the same species.