Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 8, 2016

Standing Committee of Correspondents: SCOTUSblog Fails to Demonstrate Editorial Independence

The journalists in charge of Capitol Hill press credentials for daily publications are standing firm on their decision to deny SCOTUSblog’s application, stating that the publisher fails the “fundamental test of editorial independence,” primarily because he and his law firm argue cases before the high court.

During a brief Monday morning meeting, Standing Committee of Correspondents for the Daily Press Chairwoman Siobhan Hughes, a Capitol Hill reporter for the Wall Street Journal, asked the four fellow journalists on the committee if there was  a motion to reconsider the heavily scrutinized April decision.

The reporters assembled in a meeting room on the first floor of the Capitol — employees of Stephens Media Group, the Washington Post, Bloomberg and CQ Roll Call — remained silent. In the month since SCOTUSblog publisher Tom Goldstein and veteran courts reporter Lyle Denniston appeared before the panel for a 90-minute public appeal hearing, none had changed their mind. Instead, they signed off on a letter to Goldstein that explains why SCOTUSblog fails to pass muster for the gallery’s standards of  editorial independence.

The three-page letter, dated June 23, explains the three ways that SCOTUSblog fails to meet the requirements of Rule 4 of the standards for issuing a congressional press pass.

Rule 4 states, in part, that applicants’ publications must be “editorially independent of any institution, foundation or interest group that lobbies the federal government, or that is not principally a general news organization.”

Based on Goldstein’s role as both publisher with editorial control and Supreme Court lawyer, the letter states that SCOTUSblog fails the test of independence. They describe the award-winning blog as “editorially intertwined” with a law partner and a firm that lobbies the federal government.

The letter states that SCOTUSblog would need to be independent of Goldstein and his law firm, Goldstein & Russell, because neither is principally a general news organization.

Finally, the letter cites a 2013 interview Goldstein did with the American Bar Association, in which he stated that SCOTUSblog indirectly accounted for 75 percent of the law firm’s SCOTUS business. Asked to give ABA a sense of how much business he received “in dollars or percentage” from the blog, Goldstein estimated it contributed to “75 percent of the Supreme Court work that I get hired to do.”

The journalists conclude that Goldstein uses the blog as a platform for publicity material about himself, “making the blog part of his personal brand.”

Goldstein was not immediately available for comment Monday morning. He told CQ Roll Call he was tied up in SCOTUSblog coverage of opinions and orders issued by the court.

  • Jim Bond

    The disagreement between the liberty school and the collectivists is not an argument about attempting to improve civilization, but rather about the best ways of doing so.

    • get2djnow

      Would that it were so. The collectivists want to shut out the Liberty school from the debate.

  • zaggs

    Yet the same people have given accreditation to “journalists” whose spouses worked for either the administration or one of the political parties. How can they say they are more independent?

  • InklingBooks

    How laughable. Does anyone think the Washington Post or the NY Times displays “editorial independence.” Simply contrast the coverage Watergate got with their disinterest in the far more serious IRS scandal. Neither paper editorial independence. Both are mere lap puppies of the Democratic party.

    In the case of the Washington Post, does anything think that the DC-beltway-based paper’s business doesn’t profit handsomely from a bloated and regulation-obsessed federal government. The WP has a heavily financial stake in keeping the Democrats in power.

    No, this isn’t about enforcing professional standards. This is journalistically endorsed, financially remunerative censorship.

  • ohio granny

    Just one more example of how democrat supporters try to silence anyone daring to criticize the Obama regime. These so-called independent journalists are anything but. Look at what the Washington Post, Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal cover or don’t cover or the slanted coverage they give to various scandals of the Obama regime. That tells the whole story of how biased they are in favor of democrats.

  • SleeperG

    This is simply ridiculous, as SCOTUSBlog provides concise summaries and reporting of cases before the Court with little to no political bias. The same cannot be said of most of MSM. Standing Committee of Correspondents – sounds more like the Standing Committee for Enforcement of Content.

  • get2djnow

    All journalists are equal, some are just more equal than others.

    This Standing Committee for the Purity of the Reportage has got to be some kind of joke. As I’ve heard it said, Journalists: Democratic operatives with a byline.

  • Rick Caird

    It is astonishing a committee of journalists is responsible for handing out press credentials in the first place. How is that not a conflict as bad or worse than being a lawyer practicing in front of the Court?

  • Emmanuel Ezekiel

    Until recently, democratic processes yielded such slow evolutions of public opinion that 20 years would pass before new ideas were accepted.

  • Plutark Heavensbee

    The liberty school recognizes that the quacks and superstitions which most threaten liberty become more widely accepted in times of crisis.

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