Accuracy in Media

Washington Post columnist David Broder has suggested that President Bush abandon his campaign promise to appoint someone to the Supreme Court in the mold of conservative Antonin Scalia. Broder didn’t like the way Scalia articulated his decisions against affirmative action and homosexual rights. That demonstrates Broder’s bias. He could have urged the President to avoid making the mistake that his father made in nominating a phony conservative like David Souter to the court. Souter was a somewhat mysterious choice at the time but there was never indication that he would vote as an extreme liberal.

Souter is so extreme that he voted with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a former ACLU counsel, and Justice Stevens to uphold an affirmative action program at the University of Michigan that gave someone 20 points just for being black. Souter wrote, “It is hard to see what is inappropriate in assigning some stated value to a relevant characteristic, whether it be reasoning ability, writing style, running speed, or minority race.”

Back in 1990, however, when Souter was nominated, it was reported that he had a record of opposing government racial policies. While serving as New Hampshire Attorney General, the Washington Post said Souter fought federal regulations requiring the state to submit a racial breakdown of employees because it made the state “color conscious rather than color blind.” But in the affirmative action case just decided, Souter ruled that the university could openly and blatantly discriminate against whites in favor of blacks and Hispanics.

There were numerous stories at the time of his nomination that Souter was a conservative. The Washington Times then reported that conservatives believed Souter’s elevation to the court “would help rehabilitate Mr. Bush’s tarnished image among some supporters on the right?” The paper reported that his selection was “likely to solidify the high court’s fragile conservative bloc.” Human Events newspaper ran a front page story headlined, “Conservative Legal Experts Impressed with Souter’s Record.” It said conservatives were hopeful that he would “significantly advance the conservative thrust of the High Court.”

Columnist George F. Will was more cautious, saying that while Bush had labeled Souter a conservative, “the public record does not confirm” that. However, the Washington Post also joined the chorus, saying Souter was “a little-known conservative jurist.” The Bush Justice Department had described him as a strict constructionist.

Not much was known about his legal record, but it made headlines when Souter, a life-long bachelor, received the endorsement of his former fianc?e. His supporters also included then-White House Chief of Staff John Sununu and “moderate” Senator Warren Rudman. Some commentators are saying that President Bush’s White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, a potential Supreme Court nominee, could be another Souter. This time, conservatives might not be fooled. Human Events has already published Terry Jeffrey’s article, “The Conservative Case Against Al Gonzales.”

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