Monday, November 16, 2009

A SCOTUS judge attacking freedom of the press??

Only an "edited" version of what he said was allowed
"The school newspaper at Dalton, a private school in Manhattan, contained a cryptic note from its editors last Friday. "“We are not able to cover the recent visit by a Supreme Court justice due to numerous publication constraints,” the note said. It promised “an explanation of the regrettable delay” in the next issue.

It turns out that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, widely regarded as one of the court’s most vigilant defenders of First Amendment values, had provided the newspaper, The Daltonian, with a lesson about journalistic independence. Justice Kennedy’s office had insisted on approving any article about a talk he gave to an assembly of Dalton high school students on Oct. 28.

Kathleen Arberg, the court’s public information officer, said Justice Kennedy’s office had made the request to make sure the quotations attributed to him were accurate. The justice’s office received a draft of the proposed article on Monday and returned it to the newspaper the same day with “a couple of minor tweaks,” Ms. Arberg said. Quotations were “tidied up” to better reflect the meaning the justice had intended to convey, she said....

The article itself, by Kristian Bailey, a Dalton senior and one of the paper’s editors in chief, is a straightforward account of Justice Kennedy’s biography and his wide-ranging remarks. The article is expected to be published in the paper’s next issue.


That a SCOTUS judge doesn't "get it" is no surprise, I suppose. His verdicts are pretty erratic.


Wes said...

I would think a supreme court justice would choose his words carfully and not need to edit quotations that were accurate.

Anonymous said...

People do not have enough time to "choose his words carfully" during an interview. The interviewer wants more bang for the buck and will move the interview along rather quickly, leaving less time to properly formulate answers.

Anonymous said...

If a "quotation" needs to be tidied up, it is no longer a quote.

Unknown said...

As someone who has identified himself as a conservative since freshman year, Scalia always finds a way to disappoint. If you say what you believe then there's never a need to "formulate" a response.

Anonymous said...

This was about Kennedy.

Anonymous said...

Wes said:

"I would think a supreme court justice would ... need to edit quotations."

It is not like the "media" has ever taken something out of context and used it for an agenda. (See above) In this day and age of 8 hour news cycles, the internet and pundits micro-analyzing everything that is said, I can honestly see someone wanting to make sure their words and feelings are accurately portrayed.

In the case of a Supreme Court Justice, who don't often give lectures, I can see this this as well.

We sit in front of computers and write things that are misinterpreted all the time. We aren't speaking off the cuff, we have time to think and write what we want. A speech is not the same thing. Once words leave your mouth, there is no "delete" or "backspace" key to change them.

Kennedy made what is essentially a contract with the school to make sure his comments were not misunderstood or misrepresented. He is not the first person to do so and won't be the last.

This is not a first amendment issue at all. If the school doesn't like the conditions of the contract or agreement that brings a Supreme Court Justice to their school, then don't agree to it. It is that simple.

A side note: Take a look at the last line in the original post. Jay writes: "His verdicts are pretty erratic.


The Supreme Court issues opinions, not verdicts. The two are quite different and have different meanings. It would be quite easy to say "look at Jay - a lawyer commenting on the legal system but doesn't know the basic workings of the legal system." It is a fair accusation based upon his comments. Yet Jay had time to write the post, proof it, and make sure it was perfect.

He failed.

The consequences of his failure is that a few people out of the 300+ million people in the US will know. The same can't be said of a misstatement or a reporter's misquote of a speech by a sitting justice on the United States Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that there are at least two obvious issues here - the first is the nature of the agreement, with requirement that the Justice control the contents of the article and whether that is appropriate; the second is the paper agreeing to this and what might have happened had they not done so and stood on their first amendment rights...

Robert said...

For the record, I recall reading somewhere several months ago, though I can't remember where, that Justice Kennedy's opinions have generally been along a test of "Is an individual being or feeling coerced?" I think I found it from one of the links from one of these blogs.