David Boaz of Reason asks a great question:
Remember all those news stories in 1993 about how the nomination of former ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg to replace conservative Justice Byron White on the United States Supreme Court would “tilt the balance of the court to the left?”
Of course you don’t. Because there weren’t any.
In the past three months, the major media have repeatedly hammered away at the theme that Judge Samuel Alito Jr. would “shift the Supreme Court to the right” if he replaced retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
According to Lexis/Nexis, major newspapers have used the phrase “shift the court” 36 times in their Alito coverage. They have referred to the “balance of the court” 32 times and “the court’s balance” another 15. “Shift to the right” accounted for another 18 mentions.
Major radio and television programs indexed by Lexis/Nexis have used those phrases 63 times. CNN told viewers that Alito would “tilt the balance of the court” twice on the day President Bush nominated him. NPR’s first-day story on “Morning Edition” was headlined “Alito could move court dramatically to the right.”
Now maybe all this is to be expected. Alito is a conservative, he’s been nominated to replace a centrist justice, and he probably will move the Supreme Court somewhat to the right