Today's Papers

Supreme Court Gridlock

Three big Supreme Court decisions yesterday. Which to lead with? The New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times all choose the ruling that states may ban assisted suicide. (“No Help For Dying,” is the NYT plaintive subhed. A sidebar analysis is headlined, somewhat tastelessly, “An Issue that Won’t Die.”) The unanimous ruling that the Communications Decency Act (banning smut on the Internet) is unconstitutional makes page one of the two Timeses and the Post. But the third decision–rejecting a challenge to the line-item veto–didn’t even rate a front-page teaser in the NYT.

USA Today brings a characteristic “human touch” to all the dry legal news, noting that moments after the Court announced the Internet ruling, “a staffer for groups opposing the law popped a disk containing the opinion into his laptop computer outside the court and transmitted it by cellular modem to an Internet site.”

The NYT and LAT allot the top of column one (journalism’s traditional spot for the day’s No. 2 story) to the tax cut bill that passed the House yesterday.

Two local-interest stories with national implications. The LAT reports that because of the University of California’s recent abandonment of affirmative action in admissions, its incoming law school class is likely to include only one black student. And the NYT page-ones a story that publishing giant HarperCollins is reacting to the slump in book sales by canceling completed books, including some already advertised in its catalogs. Among the casualties mentioned are a Jell-O cookbook and a book about celebrity pets.