Does News Media Coverage of the Supreme Court Emphasize Politics Too Much?

What started as an informal lunch conversation has developed into a scholarly law journal article raising an important question: Is the coverage of the United State Supreme Court by the news media contributing to the public perception of the Court as an institution doing politicized work in an atmosphere emphasizing factions? Or, as the title of the article puts it, “Supreme Court Journalism: From Law to Spectacle?”

In an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program posted on Marquette Law School’s web site on Feb. 3, 2021, Christina Tilley, a professor at the University of Iowa College of Law, said the paper in the Washington & Lee Law Review does not answer the broad question. But it examines aspects of the matter.

Tilley told Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy,  that she and her co-author, Barry Sullivan, a professor at Loyola University Chicago Law School, were talking one day several years ago, when Tilley was a faculty member at Loyola, about how headlines on Supreme Court stories seemed to be getting more “click-baity,” a term for language that attracts attention. Stories about the Court seemed to be emphasizing which president appointed justices and which faction of the court justices belonged to rather than issues and legal reasoning, they thought.

Continue ReadingDoes News Media Coverage of the Supreme Court Emphasize Politics Too Much?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Runs Maniak’s Blog Post

August student blogger of the month and former Marine Robert Maniak (3L) recently wrote a powerful, moving post called Rules of Engagement that appeared on this blog. This morning, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and ran that post as an opinion piece. Congratulations to Robert. Be sure to check out Robert’s other blog posts here, here, and here.

Continue ReadingMilwaukee Journal Sentinel Runs Maniak’s Blog Post

Tort Law and Fake News

Photo of high school student at March for Life 2019This Friday, January 24, 2020, hundreds of thousands of people will gather in Washington D.C. for the 47th annual March for Life. This year’s theme for the March for Life is “Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.” Last year’s March for Life invited additional news coverage thanks to a video that depicted Nick Sandmann, a high school student, smiling at a Native American elder as the elder beat a drum in front of the student. This initial video made it seem as if the student was mocking the elder. In the wake of this viral video and the news coverage that ensued, there was an immense backlash against the student and his high school. I recall seeing posts on social media listing the email addresses of the school’s administrators encouraging people to flood their inboxes with less than courteous emails expressing disapproval of their student’s behavior.

However, later video evidence revealed that a group of Black Hebrew Israelites had been yelling racial slurs at Sandmann and his peers, and that the Native American elder approached Sandmann as a way of diffusing the situation between the Black Hebrew Israelites and the students. Moreover, it became clear that neither Sandmann nor his peers were at fault in the confrontation.

Sandmann filed a defamation suit against CNN seeking $250 million dollars for its inaccurate coverage of the confrontation and the emotional distress that he endured as a result. Earlier this month it was released that Sandmann had agreed to a settlement with CNN for an undisclosed amount.

Continue ReadingTort Law and Fake News