Lucianne points to today’s New York Times corrections, pointing out “the number of Roberts corrections.” The problem with all Times corrections is the implication that the rest of the paper has things right. Two of these corrections are notable, however, for revealing a motif in the Times coverage of Judge Roberts:
An article on July 22 about efforts by the White House to shore up support for Judge John G. Roberts Jr. among social-issue conservatives, a full year before he was nominated for the Supreme Court, referred incorrectly to his dissent in a case before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, involving the arroyo toad. (The error was repeated in articles on July 23 and on Tuesday.) Judge Roberts said the court should rehear the case and consider whether the Interior Department had properly invoked the Endangered Species Act in this circumstance. He did not say the federal government lacked the power to block a California real estate development because it endangered the toad.
An article on July 20 about preparations by advocacy groups to oppose Judge Roberts also referred incorrectly to his dissent. He did not question the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act.
This is what David Kirkpatrick had written in the concluding paragraph of his July 20 article:
Liberal groups said their biggest complaint about Mr. Roberts on the bench concerned a ruling on an environmental issue. They noted that in a dissenting opinion Judge Roberts had questioned the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act. Judge Roberts “displayed a flippant attitude towards preventing the extinction of what he called ‘a hapless toad that, for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California,'” Buck Parker, executive director of Earthjustice, said in a statement.
Let me translate. In other words, according to David Kirkpatrick and the Times correction, the left’s “biggest complaint” about Judge Roberts is premised on an error or misrepresentation of fact.
On July 19, our own John H. wrote here more reliably on this subject than the Times, while also noting that the motif derived from the research of the left-wing groups attacking Judge Roberts:
They have attacked Roberts’ dissenting vote in Rancho Viejo v. Norton, where Roberts would have granted en banc review to decide whether the Endangered Species Act could constitutionally be applied on the facts of the case. Roberts’ dissent was based on recent Supreme Court jurisprudence which has revitalized the Commerce Clause as a meaningful constraint on federal power. Under the Supreme Court’s cases, his position appears to be correct: the issue is not whether the enforcement of the regulation will affect interstate commerce by blocking a development project. The issue is whether the statute at issue, as applied, is itself a regulation of interstate commerce. Given that the toad in question chooses to live its entire life in California, for reasons of its own–as Roberts put it–his dissent seems sound under current Supreme Court case law. In any event, this is hardly an issue to fire up the general public.
While John is right in noting the issue’s lack of resonance with the American public, it obviously has a receptive audience among the crew at the Times. Unlike the Times, he also covered the issue accurately.
UPDATE: Michael Barone adds to these observations in “Roberts 7, Harpies 0.”