Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak offered a front-page treatise Sunday on how to get confirmed to the high court: "Path to Court: Speak Capably But Say Little ." Basically, avoid hot-button topics like Roe v. Wade, the controversial 1973 Supreme Court decision that conjured up a constitutional right to abortion.
Liptak's labeling was a little off-balance - while Republican opponents of Sotomayor nomination were called "conservative," her supporters were not labeled "liberal." Liptak even referred to Sotomayor's "somewhat conservative rulings in criminal cases."
Worse was the misleading chart that accompanied Liptak's story. The chart (which I can't find online) lumped three abortion cases, including Roe v. Wade, under the misleading "Right to Privacy" category, as if to put it beyond the realm of political debate.
The chart listed four categories in all: "The Court's Role," "Racial Equality," "Labor," and lastly, five cases under "Right to Privacy," consisting of two rulings on contraception and three on abortion, including the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Does abortion really fit comfortably under a personal "right to privacy" heading, given that there's more than one human being involved? Shouldn't those three issues have been broken off into a separate "Abortion" category? Putting "Abortion" there is declaring the entire controversial issue off-limits from criticism. Which was surely the Times intent.
Tuesday's lead editorial, "Questioning Judge Sotomayor ," made a similar category error. It actually challenged senators to question Sotomayor closely, at least on the issues of "right to privacy" - by which the editors naturally meant upholding "the line of cases that include Roe v. Wade." Are they really worried that Sotomayor is a stealth pro-lifer ?