Thursday, July 9, 2015

Greenhouse on the "Liberal" Supreme Court

Longtime Supreme Court journalist Linda Greenhouse has gradually become one of the sanest of the better-known inside-the-Beltway journalists, bucking the trend to hew to the center-right line and instead actually speaking sense. Here's an example.

The court typically takes cases in order to resolve a conflict among the lower courts, making a grant of review an essentially neutral act from which little can be concluded. Rather, it is cases like King v. Burwell and the Fair Housing Act case that tell the tale. On neither question was there a circuit conflict. Affirming the lower court decisions was a vote for the status quo at least as much as for a “liberal” result. That was especially true in the Fair Housing case. Not only the Fifth Circuit, one of the country’s most conservative courts, but every other circuit had ruled that the Fair Housing Act did not require proof of intentional discrimination. For the Supreme Court to have gone the other way, as most people expected (or else why did the court take the case?) would have manifested right-wing activism in the extreme.

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