by Lev Tsitrin
The New York Times’ Editorial Board routinely engages in righteous indignation -- yet that indignation is highly selective. Consider editors' deep concern for impartiality of courts that hear immigration cases, expressed in the recent opinion titled “Immigration Courts Aren’t Real Courts. Time to Change That.”
What is the New York Times’ problem with those courts? “They are not actual courts, at least not in the sense that Americans are used to thinking of courts — as neutral arbiters of law, honoring due process and meting out impartial justice. Nor are immigration judges real judges. They are attorneys employed by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which is housed in the Department of Justice. It’s hard to imagine a more glaring conflict of interest than the nation’s top law-enforcement agency running a court system in which it regularly appears as a party.”
Clearly, the members of the New York Times’ Editorial Board are not dumb. They realize that judges should be “neutral arbiters of law, honoring due process and meting out impartial justice.” They also realize that it is impossible for a party to the case to impartially adjudicate the case.
But if the paper is so concerned with justice, and the due process of the law, why is it that the very same New York Times adamantly refuses to look into the working of federal judges, who routinely adjudicate their own argument instead of that given them by plaintiff and defendant, evaluating the argument which the judges, acting as if they were lawyers to the party they want to win, pull out of thin air so as to decide the cases argued before them the way they want to, not the way they have to, and when sued for fraud, defend themselves by the self-given, in Pierson v Ray, right to act from the bench “maliciously and corruptly”? Clearly, this “procedure” of argument substitution (which, to think of it, is hardly different from the tampering with evidence), is anything but “impartial,” and the “corrupt and malicious” judges who feel entitled to engage in it are hardly “neutral arbiters of law, honoring due process and meting out impartial justice.” Rather, they obstruct justice right from the bench.
The fact that the full third of US government – the federal judiciary – is unabashedly “corrupt and malicious” is a Pulitzer-class, front-page, above-the-fold story. So why does the New York Times refuse to cover it? Is it because those who suffer the resulting injustice are mere US citizens, and the New York Times is only concerned with the welfare of the illegal aliens?
Or is it because the New York Times was caught in a brazen lie back in 1960s when covering the civil rights movement, and was sued for defamation for half a million dollars – a colossal sum at the time, and the Supreme Court ruled for the New York Times, declaring in the landmark case, New York Times v. Sullivan, that its lie was protected speech – so to return the favor, and to be on the right side of the judges in the future, it bends over backward to shield the judiciary from public exposure of judges' malfeasance? Does the Times’ Editorial Board make a mere “appearance” of the defense of justice while, where it matters, making sure that judicial decision-making continues to be arbitrary, and is in its favor when that favor is needed?
Hypocrisy is a complicated phenomenon. Whatever the reason for the New York Times’ hypocrisy when it comes to judges (and so many other things), at least the fact that the paper is systemically hypocritical is crystal-clear. While it writes about justice, it is no champion of justice. If there is one thing that drives the New York Times, it is its utter hypocrisy.
Lev Tsitrin is the founder of the Coalition Against Judicial Fraud, www.cajfr.org