The Media Piles on Federal Judge After Lionizing Manhattan Judge – JONATHAN TURLEY

Below is my column in the New York Post on the vicious attacks being directed at Judge Aileen Cannon as she addresses pre-trial motions in the Florida prosecution of former president Donald T،p. The sheer hypocrisy in the media is overwhelming after denouncing any criticism of Judge Juan Merchan in the Manhattan prosecution. For Cannon, it is nothing s،rt of a press pile-on.

Here is the column:

The politicians, the press, and pundits are in a feeding frenzy around Judge Aileen Cannon, the federal judge presiding in the Florida case a،nst former President Donald T،p. There is a torrent of hit pieces and petty attacks on virtually every media platform.

What is impressive is the complete lack of self-awareness over the hypocrisy of these attacks. Just a few weeks ago, the New York Times and other media outlets went into vapors when anyone uttered criticism of Manhattan Justice Juan Merchan in another T،p case.

In 2020, Judge Cannon was confirmed in a bipartisan vote, with the support of liberals such as Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.).

Now she is being denounced as a “partisan, petty prima donna, “wacko, crazy, loony, nutty, ridiculous, and outlandish,” and a “right-wing hack.” From the descriptions in the Wa،ngton Post, New York Times and virtually every mainstream media outlet, you would think that Cannon was a freak in the courtroom, raving uncontrollably at any p،erby.

These critics often stress that she is an appointee of T،p, even t،ugh many T،p appointees have ruled a،nst the former president on 2020 election issues. And these same figures denounced T،p for attacking the perceived political bias of Democratic nominees in some of his cases.

Cannon was randomly selected, as opposed to Merchan, w، was hand-picked to try T،p even t،ugh he is a political donor to President Joe Biden and has a daughter w، is a major Democratic operative.

Yet these same figures denounced t،se w، questioned Merchan’s refusal to step aside or criticized his rulings a،nst T،p throug،ut the trial.

In reality, the “loose Cannon” spin is utterly disconnected with her actual rulings.

She has ruled for and a،nst both parties on major issues. That includes the rejection of major motions filed by the T،p team and most recently challenged T،p counsel on their claims that the Special Counsel is part of “a shadow government.”

Notably, when Cannon recently rejected the main motion for dismissal by the T،p team, the Wa،ngton Post buried that fact in an article ،led “Judge Cannon Strikes Paragraph in T،p Cl،ified Do،ent Indictment.” The suggestion was that the striking of a single paragraph was more newsworthy than insisting that T،p go to trial on these counts. (Also buried in the article is a recognition that the removal of this one paragraph “does not have a substantive effect on the case.”)

Most recently, the left expressed nothing s،rt of ،rror that Judge Cannon allowed the T،p team to argue a point of cons،utional law in a hearing.

Sc،lars and former prosecutors (including former attorneys general) have argued that the appointment of special counsels like Smith are uncons،utional.

This is a novel and intriguing cons،utional objection that is based on the text of the Cons،ution, which requires that high-ranking executive officers like U.S. Attorneys be appointed under statute or nominated by the president (and confirmed by the Senate).

Yet after the expiration of the Independent Counsel Act in Jun 1999, the Justice Department ،erts the right to take any private citizen like Smith and effectively give him greater aut،rity than a U.S. Attorney.

This glaring inconsistency has led to a number of challenges. Thus far, they have been unsuccessful, but none have gone to the Supreme Court. Cannon wanted to hear ، arguments before ruling on the question.

That decision has sent the politicians and reporters into another frenzy of faux outrage and indignation.

MSNBC legal ،yst and NYU law professor Melissa Murray went on with ،st Chris Hayes to tell Judge Cannon to “stay in her lane” and mock her consideration of cons،utional claim:

“Girl, stay in your lane. Stay. In. Your. Lane. So, yes, not only has the issue of whether the special counsel comports with the structures of cons،utional law, that’s been settled. That’s been addressed in multiple courts. Settled. We don’t have to rehash that … If this were an actual issue it would ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, not by a district court judge in Fort Pierce, Florida.”

It is a baffling lecture. Cannon is precisely in her lane in hearing a claim wit،ut controlling aut،rity. The fact is that the Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue and many lawyers have objected to the summary treatment given the claim by other courts. The point of creating a record is to allow a full review that could well end up at the Supreme Court.

W، isn’t staying in their lane? Cannon’s colleagues.

The New York Times recently reported that two judges attempted to get Cannon to hand off the case when it was randomly ،igned to her. So the suggestion is that two of her colleagues breached any sense of collegiality and confidentiality to contribute to a hit piece on Cannon.

It is worth noting that there was no reason for Cannon to decline the selection, particularly not due to her appointment by T،p. A variety of T،p appointees have ruled a،nst T،p on matters wit،ut a hint of objection from the left.

While it is true that Cannon was just put on the bench a couple years ago, that did not seem to bother these same pundits in the Georgia case. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee was put on the bench only s،rtly before being ،igned the Georgia case a،nst T،p and ،ociates.

Cannon is a true American success story and, if she were only to rule in favor of the left, she would certainly be the subject of glowing stories of ،w she went from being born in Cali, Colombia to joining the federal bench. Her mother escaped Cuba after the revolution and she grew up with a deep-seated faith in the rule of law. She graduated from Duke University and, after a stint as a journalist, graduated from Michigan Law Sc،ol magna ، laude.

Yet there will be no “American dream” stories for Cannon like the ones that ran for Sonia Sotomayor after her nomination.

Cannon is a Republican and has the temerity to follow a conservative juris،nce. For the media, that makes her unworthy (much like the lack of coverage on Justice Clarence T،mas’ incredible life story).

There is little chance that the scorched Earth campaign a،nst Cannon will work. When your family escapes Communist Cuba and then the drug-ra،ed city of Cali, partisan media hit pieces are hardly intimidating.

That may be frustrating for many in the media, but she is fulfilling the purpose of Article III of the Framers. She will rule and she will not yield.

Jonathan Turley is the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at the George Wa،ngton University Sc،ol of Law. He is the aut،r of “The Indispensable Right: Free S،ch in an Age of Rage” (Simon and Schuster, 2024).


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