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‘Preserving the Balance’ by Maintaining a Conservative Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court judges in 2009. (Photo: Public Domain/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)

On CNN‘s State of the Union today (2/14/16), Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward laid out the “potential minefield” posed by a liberal Supreme Court appointment to “everyone, including Hillary Clinton and the Obama White House.”

Because Scalia was a conservative, said Woodward,

the Democrats will say, “Gee, we’re going to put a fifth liberal on the Supreme Court.” The Republican nominee can go out and say, “We’re going to preserve the balance.”

This is a unique understanding of the term “balance,” meaning a court with a conservative majority. (Don’t get me started on the assumption that the other four are liberal….) Though framed as a GOP view, this was clearly embraced by Woodard, who explained how most undecideds and independents would view the appointment of anyone but a conservative as a “radical” move:

In the world now of real voters, I think it is the persuadable voter or the independent who’s likely, in a positive way, to respond to the idea that, “Yeah, let’s preserve the balance, let’s not do anything radical.”

Woodward closed the segment citing a 1970s Washington Star headline on the occasion of Justice William O. Douglas’ death, which he claimed said that everyone, “left, right and center, is going to miss Justice Douglas.” “I think it’s the same for Justice Scalia,” said Woodward.

Presenting the views of the power elite as those of the public, no matter how detached those views are from actual public sentiment and opinion, is what the national media are about. This largely explains why dullards and fantasists like Woodward thrive in it.

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Steve Rendall

Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City).

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