[A]lthough the Court’s decisions under, say, Rehnquist, were more conservative than its decisions under Warren, that’s not reflected in the cases that get lots of media coverage. A simple way to show this is to ask whether a particular Court decision was on the front page of the New York Times the day after the decision was announced. Call these “salient” cases, knowing that they were likely covered in many other media as well. When Bartels and Johnson looked at civil liberties and civil rights cases and then broke them down by salience, they found that the “salient” cases were more liberal than the “non-salient cases.”
Ryan Sager adds his own commentary.