Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Rehnquist Passing: What Liberal Media?

Movement conservatives have long made the case that America's media, in the main, carry water for liberal causes, and, it follows, for the Democratic Party itself. The journalist Eric Alterman, in his book, What Liberal Media, (2003) refutes that mythology masterfully; it’s worth a read.

Recently the death of Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist and how the media have dealt with his passing, and their total lack of examination, not only of his record on the Supreme Court but of his life in toto, is another example that Alterman's arguments were accurate.

The notion that the media leans towards or is completely liberal is now quite debunked. Recently, the media, by and large, have fawned over William Rehnquist and have never bothered to explain some of his very retroactive votes on the Court nor have they explained Rehnquist’s very unusual political background. By looking at his record it becomes clear that his historical animosity towards minorities and the underprivileged aren’t to be desired in today’s America, the evidence is there, just look at the Rehnquist record. The danger is that if we do not actively learn from the mistakes of yesterday, and, to actively preserve our history, then, as the acclaimed early 20th century Harvard professor and naturalist philosopher George Santayana once said, "We are doomed to repeat the past." America’s citizenry needs better information, and the media, to be sure, can be of tremendous help.

We should examine the background of Chief Justice Rehnquist past. Why should we be curious? The answer: so we as Americans can see the true Rehnquist and ask why he held such disastrous views towards so many of our citizens, and maybe more importantly, why President Nixon put him on the Supreme Court. In the mid 1960’s the country had just gone through terrible political fights in order for minorities to finally become true citizens in America, however conservatives were unsatisfied with the results, so enter President Nixon and William Rehnquist (and this is long before President Reagan appeared on the stage, well at least nationally).

Here is the man President Nixon put on the Court:

--Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, in a recent article, alleged that while at Stanford, Rehnquist engaged in terribly bigoted acts such as goose-stepping and making the "Heil Hitler" salute in front of Jewish student dormitories. Amazing. Let’s not forget that Jews were discouraged from attending Stanford and could not join any college clubs when Rehnquist was there. So it appears that due to Stanford’s bigoted environment he was in a college of his dreams.

--In the early 1950’s Rehnquist went to Washington, D.C. to work as a law clerk for the legendary Justice Robert H. Jackson (who was the primary attorney at the Nuremberg Trials, post World War II, in Germany). There, Rehnquist wrote a memo arguing against school desegregation while the Court was considering the landmark Brown v Board of Education of Topeka (1954), one of the early civil rights cases. Justice Jackson, in Brown, voted to end discrimination, in a unanimous decision ignoring the Rehnquist memo. God bless Justice Robert Jackson.

--Rehnquist concluded that Plessy v Ferguson (1896), that ugly Supreme Court decision that kept African-Americans at the cellar of society in the South and elsewhere in America, not long after the Civil War, "was right and should be reaffirmed." This point-of-view kills me; it is so retroactive as he tried to take back America to 1896. The case after all stated that “separate but equal” would be the law of the land. Yes, African- Americans would become separate, but not equal under the law until the Civil Rights Acts signed under President Johnson in the mid 1960’s. But, it appears, Rehnquist is not happy with minorities being equal under the law, at least, that’s what he argued in his memorandum.

--During the 1986 U.S. Senate hearings on his chief justice nomination, several people came forward to complain about what they viewed as Rehnquist’s attempts to discourage minority voters in Arizona elections when he served as a "poll watcher" in the early 1960s. “Operation Eagle Eye” sought to obstruct and challenge the voting qualifications of Arizona blacks and Latinos in Phoenix, the capital of the state. This is long before Republicans did that in the early 1990’s in Orange County, Calif. It appears that Republicans keep using the same tricks in order to keep minorities from voting.

And I won’t even discuss of how Rehnquist tried to reverse the many landmark decisions passed with the help of Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. in the 1950’s and 1960’s to help bring social justice to America. In short, that’s the man President Nixon put on the Court. Where was Congress during the hearings? I, say absent without leave. And, with the death of William Rehnquist, it seems the media has been as well. I ask: what liberal media?


Blogger George N. Giacoppe, LTC, USA, Ret. said...

Good stuff. I had read mostly about his right wing decisions and his nexus with Nixon. Your piece should scare the hell out of people who don't want to lose their rights.

Bye Bye 4th amendment and the 1st amendment has already been sold to the highest bidder.

9:43 PM  

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