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Justice Linda Greenhouse Retires

Linda Greenhouse hasn’t been merely the best reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court in the last thirty years. She’s the principal reason why we understand better the oversized role the court plays in our daily lives, and how it plays it—how Planned Parenthood v. Casey and a couple of cases on affirmative action, when Sandra Day O’Connor was still on the court, represented the last great gasps of the court’s respect for precedent, how Bush v. Gore marked the fatal (for now) politicization of the court, how June’s gun-case decision (D.C. v. Heller) revealed “originalism” for the sham that it is—it is whatever the justice in the majority decides it is. Reading Linda Greenhouse was compelling, fun, absolutely essential.

Now she’s “retiring.” The word in quotes because she is, in fact, being bought out. The New York Times offered her $300,000, more than double her $140,000 salary, she’s 61, she was thinking of retiring anyway, and now she’s going to write books and teach at Yale Law School.

That’s too bad for us. It’s also indicative of the stupidity of corporate journalism these days. The best are fired, “let go,” “bought out.” We all lose. Here’s Linda Greenhouse’s farewell piece, in today’s Times, a look back at the 2,691 decisions she witnessed, and of, as she ruefully puts it in the last line of the piece—the very same line, by the way, that ends Jeffrey Toobin’s recent book on the court—“the Supreme Court we deserve.”


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