Quoting Cornyn, early Reuters report suggested "liberals" do not "respect the words and meaning of the Constitution"

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Reuters reported that Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) "said he supported [Judge Samuel A.] Alito for the same reason many oppose him -- his refusal to embrace a liberal agenda." The article then quoted Cornyn's statement: "I want judges ... who will respect the words and meaning of the Constitution, the laws enacted by Congress, and the laws enacted by state legislatures." Reuters' juxtaposition of the term "liberal agenda" and Cornyn's statement has the effect of promoting Cornyn's view that a "liberal agenda" is inconsistent with a respect for the Constitution.

A January 9 Reuters article on the first day of the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. reported that Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) "said he supported Alito for the same reason many oppose him -- his refusal to embrace a liberal agenda." The article then quoted Cornyn's opening statement, which read: "I want judges ... who will respect the words and meaning of the Constitution, the laws enacted by Congress, and the laws enacted by state legislatures." Reuters' juxtaposition of the term "liberal agenda" and Cornyn's statement has the effect of promoting Cornyn's view that a "liberal agenda" is inconsistent with a respect for the Constitution.

The January 9 Reuters article was published online shortly after 2 p.m. ET, before Cornyn actually delivered his opening statement. According to this early report:

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said he supported Alito for the same reason many oppose him -- his refusal to embrace a liberal agenda.

"I want judges on the Supreme Court who will not use their position to impose a political agenda," Cornyn said. "I want judges ... who will respect the words and meaning of the Constitution, the laws enacted by Congress, and the laws enacted by state legislatures."

From Cornyn's statement, published prior to the hearings:

The question is why, with so many people from both sides of the aisle and across the ideological spectrum supporting your nomination, are liberal special interest groups and their allies devoting so much time and money to defeat your nomination? The answer, I'm afraid, is that there are a number of groups that do not want honest and fair-minded judges on the Supreme Court. Rather, they want judges who will impose their liberal agenda on the American people.

[...]

Judge Alito, these groups are trying to defeat your nomination because you will not support their liberal agenda. And the reason they oppose you is precisely why I support you. I want judges on the Supreme Court who will not use their position to impose a political agenda on the American people. I want judges on the Supreme Court who will respect the words and meaning of the Constitution, the laws enacted by Congress, and the laws enacted by state legislatures.

By failing to place quotation marks around "liberal agenda" or inserting an aside attributing the characterization to Cornyn, Reuters suggested that a so-called "liberal agenda" actually exists, and that it is inconsistent with a respect for the Constitution, Congress, and state legislatures. Reuters dropped this language and the Cornyn quote from its later wire reports on the Alito hearings.

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments, The Judiciary
Network/Outlet
Reuters
Stories/Interests
Supreme Court Nominations, Alito Nomination
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