60 Minutes talking to a leftist Supreme Court Justice. Blind leading the blind and both fell into the ditch.
I went into the Scott Pelley interview with retired Justice John Paul Stevens with low expectations and I was not disappointed. It was correctly mentioned that Stevens had been nominated by Gerald Ford as a moderate Republican, but eventually became the leader of the Court’s liberal wing. Something happens to people who spend too much time in DC, but that’s another story for another day.
First, the issue of the 2000 Presidential election. Pelley asked Stevens whether the recount of the Bush victory over Al Gore should’ve continued. Predictably, Stevens said it should’ve continued. What was missing from the interview were two critical points. Pelley never asked the follow-up question; "Okay, if it should’ve continued, which standard should’ve been used?" Remember, the main issue was over how to count votes and how the various standards used led to much of the confusion. Democrats love election recounts to go as long as possible until they have enough votes to win. Anybody wish to challege my contention using the last decade of election history?
The larger issue that was also ignored in the CBS story is that Bush won virtually all the recounts done by the media. Many recounts using various standards were done by the media after the 2000 election and Bush’s margin of victory actually increased. You’ve probably not heard much about this because the activist old media still want to make Bush 2000 all about the SCOTUS choosing the POTUS. No story about the 2000 Presidential election should ignore what happened with the media recounts, but CBS did.
In fact, instead of asking him tough questions about the 2000 Presidential election, all Pelley did was pander to Stevens by agreeing that, “there were many people in this country that felt the Supreme Court stole that election for President Bush.” I always love when interviewers use the “many people feel” line to reflect their own thoughts.
Some people just can’t let Florida 2000 go, can they?
Another gem from Stevens that went unchallenged, “Part of our job is to write opinions from time to time that are not popular and you know at the time they are not going to be popular.” What? That is part of the job of a US Supreme Court Justice? Scott, could you not challenge him on that point at least? 35 years on the Bench and Stevens doesn’t know that it’s his job to uphold the Constitution, and not just try to be unpopular when it suits his fancy? What if upholding the Constitution is popular, do you just decide against the Constitution because it was time to do something unpopular?
Oh, it gets better.
CBS displayed its anger over the SCOTUS decision this year to “legislate from the bench” and “overturn 100 years of law,” as they put it, in the case involving corporations right to free speech under the First Amendment. Instead of challenging Stevens on a corporations right to free speech, he was allowed to ramble on about how important it is to make sure that corporations should not be allowed the right (the same as unions) because the Supreme Court needs to make sure it’s a “fair fight” between both sides in an election. So, a fair fight is more important than the First Amendment. Pelley held his pen in his right hand, took it to his chin and appeared to be in awe of the brilliance of somebody who seems so willing to ignore the Constitution because he wants to somehow make sure elections fit his definition of “fair.”
Hey, at least the Constitution was actually mentioned once during this interview. The only time it was mentioned was to hold the First Amendment in derision.
There is also this gem from the “extra” segments found only on the CBS web site. Stevens talks about the death penalty, which he is solidly against in any case. He justifies it this way, “That’s basically the rule that’s followed in most civilized countries,” Stevens says. Pelley would’ve been wise to counter with something like, “Your Honor, you are not called upon to judge according to the laws of other countries, but rather to uphold the Constitution, why do you look to other nation’s laws to judge what we do here in America?” or something to that effect. It must not have crossed Pelley’s mind, or perhaps he sees nothing wrong with Justices in this country basing their decisions on what other countries do. Clearly, it is not the job of any judge in America to look to foreign law when making decisions, but what do I know, I’ve never worked for 60 Minutes.
It would've been nice for Pelley to ask Stevens about the Kelo vs New London decision. This was the one in 2005 where Stevens basically said it was okay for government to allow a corporation to take private property from an individual using eminent domain, under the guise of increasing tax revenue. I believe the Constitution does say a few things about the right of property ownership by individuals. I guess Scott Pelley didn't have time to get to that little 'ol property rights issue. Stevens wrote the decision allowing one of the most egregious violations of Constitutional principles in our nation's history to take place - sorry, we're out of time - but ...
We did find something useful in this interview---we got to see some cool video of the Justice’s locker room and we found out that Babe Ruth actually did “call the shot” on the home run in the 1932 World Series in Wrigley Field. Stevens was 12 years old at the time and at the game. He said he saw it. It’s the one decision I’ll trust him on.