The Sotomayor exception

Paul Gigot writes in the Wall Street Journal’s morning editorial report email today:

Democrats and progressives now dominate nearly every leading political and cultural institution in America. The most important exception is the U.S. Supreme Court, which after many decades finally has a majority of originalist Justices. This is proving to be intolerable to Democrats and the press corps, which are unleashing a furious political attack on the current Court, especially Justice Clarence Thomas. Our James Taranto has been debunking these attacks, and he shows how the latest—a ProPublica report that Harlan Crow paid tuition for a great-nephew the Justice cared for—is no more a scandal than the others.

Gigot links to Taranto’s column “Alinskyites of the Left and Right Attack Thomas and Sotomayor” (behind the Journal’s paywall). Taranto notes that the Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak has sought to right the balance of the leftist Democrat/media mob that has taken after Justice Thomas:

A journalist of the right, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Wire, illustrates that point with a Wednesday piece about Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has developed a lucrative side gig as an author: “In all, she received $3.6 million from Penguin Random House or its subsidiaries, according to a Daily Wire tally of financial disclosures.”

This income was perfectly legitimate, and there’s no claim that Justice Sotomayor failed to make the required disclosures. So what’s the story? Twice—in 2013 and 2019—litigants who had sued the publisher alleging copyright violations lost in the lower courts and petitioned the justices to hear an appeal. The court denied both petitions. In both cases, Justice Stephen Breyer, another Random House author, recused himself from considering the petition. Justice Sotomayor didn’t.

Mr. Rosiak argues that the petitioner in the 2019 case, children’s-book author Jeannie Nicassio, “made a compelling argument that her case was worthy of being taken up by the Supreme Court.” The implication is that Justice Sotomayor showed favoritism toward her publisher by not recusing herself. But that’s nonsense. The decision to hear an appeal requires the agreement of four justices, irrespective of how many disagree. A recusal has the same effect as a vote not to hear the appeal.

If Justice Thomas had been in the same situation, would the mainstream press have gone after him? Certainly—Bloomberg did so last week. Mr. Rosiak is playing the same game and, in doing so, evidently attempting to follow Alinsky’s fourth rule: “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.”

But it’s a stupid and destructive game, and Justice Sotomayor isn’t the enemy. She is a peer of Justice Thomas, a part of the institution that has been targeted for attack.

I agree with Taranto in substance, but Rosiak’s Daily Wire story makes a valuable contribution to understanding the assault on Justice Thomas. The media’s lack of interest in Rosiak’s story demonstrates that the assault on Justice Thomas is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing — nothing other than the mania and malice of the left.

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