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Justice Scalia 'Went Too Far' Talking Immigration, But Ginsburg's Liberal Rants Were Welcomed by NYTimes

On the eve of the Supreme Court's monumental decision Thursday morning, New York Times reporter Ethan Bronner chides Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for politicizing the bench in "A Dissent By Scalia Is Criticized As Political." But when liberal Justices get political, they are "'passionate and pointed" and finding their own voice.

When Justice Antonin Scalia read aloud from his dissent in the Arizona immigration case on Monday, including an attack on President Obama’s recent decision not to deport many illegal immigrants who arrived here as children, it raised some eyebrows. Mr. Obama’s policy was announced two months after the case had been heard.

But Monday was a busy day at the Supreme Court, and Justice Scalia’s contention that the administration was refusing to enforce the nation’s immigration laws was only briefly noted as analysts pored over the meaning of his colleagues’ striking down of key elements of the Arizona law and their ruling on juvenile sentencing.

In the days since, however, the discussion has mushroomed. Commentators from across the political spectrum have been saying that Justice Scalia, who is the most senior as well as, hands down, the funniest, most acerbic and most politically incorrect of the justices, went too far.

“Illegal immigration is a campaign issue. It wouldn’t surprise me if Justice Scalia’s opinion were quoted in campaign ads,” Judge Richard A. Posner, a prominent federal appeals court judge, wrote Wednesday in the online journal Slate. Judge Posner, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, is a famously conservative but also contrarian jurist who has criticized Justice Scalia’s focus on pure constitutional originalism as naïve and unrealistic.

While Bronner identified Posner as "famously conservative," the famously liberal columnist E.J.Dionne was not tagged with an ideological label.

The Washington Post assailed Justice Scalia in an editorial that appeared online on Wednesday, saying he was endangering his legacy and the court’s legitimacy. E. J. Dionne, a Post columnist, called for his resignation.

In contrast, liberal justices are lauded by Times reporters when they get political on the bench. Here's Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse from May 2007 praising a "passionate and pointed" dissent on partial-birth abortion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Clinton appointee. Ginsburg also called on Congress to overturn another Supreme Court ruling on workplace discrimination against women.

Whatever else may be said about the Supreme Court's current term, which ends in about a month, it will be remembered as the time when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg found her voice, and used it....But the words were clearly her own, and they were both passionate and pointed. In the abortion case, in which the court upheld the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act seven years after having struck down a similar state law, she noted that the court was now 'differently composed than it was when we last considered a restrictive abortion regulation.' In the latest case, she summoned Congress to overturn what she called the majority's 'parsimonious reading' of the federal law against discrimination in the workplace....

-- Clay Waters is Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site