In stories about legal matters before the courts, the media tends to identify the judges involved by the President who appointed them (I find this to be less common in stories emanating from state or local court cases.). This trend of writing something to the effect that “Judge X, an Obama appointed” or Judge Y, a Trump appointee, recently decided that….” is further politicizing the judiciary.

Undoubtedly President Trump has upended the judiciary by focusing on judical nominees who are “strict constructionists” or “originalists” who do not represent activist judges. These judges tend to recognize their role to strictly interpret the Constitution based on it’s plain meaning and do not tend to make policy from the bench.

A perfect example of this reporting is a recent report in Politico.

A lawsuit accusing Trump of violating Constitution gets hostile reception screams the headline:    “A federal appeals court panel was indisputably hostile Tuesday to a lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump of violating the Constitution by profiting from his business dealings with foreign countries seeking to curry favor with his administration.

“The uphill battle the suit faces was evident before the arguments even began Tuesday morning when it was revealed that all three 4th Circuit Court of Appeals judges assigned to the case are GOP appointees, including two of the court’s most conservative jurists.

“One of those judges suggested that the suit could be a precursor to attempting to drive the president from office through impeachment. And two of the judges came close to accusing the Maryland-based district court judge handling the suit, Clinton-appointee Peter Messitte, of impropriety for trying to engineer the challenge rather than responding to legal issues presented to him by the officials who brought the suit: the attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C.”  Judges lean toward Trump in hotel ’emoluments’ case.

The use of the term “conservative” jurists implies a political leaning. That is deceptive reporting. By labeling a judge as “conservative” Politico – and others – are implying the judge has a certain political leaning. Obviously this misleads the reader into thinking there is a binary application to judges – conservative or liberal. A more accurate description would be to label judges as “originalists” or “strict constructionists” on the one hand; and “activist” or “liberal constructionist” on the other hand. A good description of the strict constructionist judical philosophy can be found here.

When you read stories about court cases; and, the article tells you which President appointed the judge involved in the case, it is more likely than not that the reporter is attempting to persuade you that a Republican-appointed judge is bad; and, a Democrat-appointed judge is good. It’s simply another caase of a biased media subliminally attempting to persuade your perspective about a legal story.

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