Supreme Court Decisions: Lazy Legal Analysis

Supreme Court Decisions: Lazy Legal Analysis

Visitors outside the Supreme Court building in 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Welcome back to “Forgotten Fact-Checks,” a weekly column produced by National Review’s News Desk. This week, we highlight some of the hysterical reactions to recent Supreme Court rulings, the non-existent Republican war on birth control, and more media misses.

Lazy Legal Analysis

The Supreme Court handed down the final rulings of its term last week, with both of them breaking down along ideological lines; the six Republican-appointed justices residing in the majority, their three Democratic counterparts dissenting. Naturally, those entrusted with interpreting the legal jargon of these judicial opinions for the general public saw this for the responsibility it is.

Well, some of them did.

Others, such as The Nation’s Elie Mystal, used their platform to deceive and divide. In a guest appearance on Joy Reid’s MSNBC show, Mystal asserted that Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee amounted to saying “as long as you don’t say the N-word when you are taking away people’s votes, it is fine.”

Reid mischaracterized Alito as having constructed a theory that would allow for the reinstatement of literacy tests.

Instead of laying the groundwork for a new Jim Crow, though, Alito articulated a number of factors that should be evaluated when determining whether a law is in violation of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. He and the rest of the majority favor a totality-of-the-circumstances test that balances state interests in election integrity with ensuring equal opportunity to the right to vote, as opposed to the single-minded disparate-impact approach advocated by Justice Elena Kagan and the liberal bloc.

Under Alito’s framework, the Court ruled that an Arizona election law — which requires that voters cast their ballot at the correct precinct and banned ballot harvesting by partisan groups — passes muster.

Is it the desired result of progressives who view even the smallest of asks at the ballot box as voter suppression? No, but it’s also not a nefarious or unreasonable burden for citizens of all colors and creeds.

The other case decided and ignorantly decried by some commentators was Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, in which Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for a majority that believed a California law requiring that charities and other advocacy organizations disclose their donors violated the First Amendment.

According to Roberts, “the deterrent effect” of the requirement on donors “is real and pervasive,” and thus constitutes an infringement on their free-speech rights. This expansion of free speech rights was met by much gnashing of teeth by the very-online left-wing commentariat.

The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer declared that “in a case brought by the Kochs’ political arm- Americans For Prosperity- the Court’s conservatives just made dark money even darker.” Mystal lamented that it was done “for the Koch Brothers.” The New York Times characterized the case this way:

The Supreme Court rejected California’s requirement that charities report the identities of major donors, siding with conservative groups who said the disclosures could lead to harassment. California’s requirement was challenged by Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a group affiliated with the Koch family, and the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian public-interest law firm. They said it violated the First Amendment.

It’s odd framing, considering the fact that progressive groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Council on American-Islamic Relations, and even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals all submitted amicus briefs to the Court asking it to rule as it did.

Fortunately, the justices, unlike these confused journalists, understand that you’re supposed to make judgments based on the facts, not the identities of the parties involved.

Headline Fail of the Week

Molly Jong-Fast writes for Vogue that “The Anti–Birth Control Movement Is the New Anti-Abortion Movement.” It’s a misleading and badly constructed title for a misleading and badly constructed piece, penned by a habitually misleading and just plain bad writer.

Jong-Fast tries to use a debate in Missouri over Plan B and other “emergency” birth control options to argue that the “Republican Party of Gilead” — ooo, a Handmaid’s Tale reference! — is waging a concerted war on birth control more generally. GOP legislators contended that taxpayer dollars, through the vector of Medicaid, should not be be spent on a drug that could induce an abortion.

“Plan B stops a woman from ovulating and thus prevents her from getting pregnant” says Jong-Fast, asserting that it never ends a unique human life that began with fertilization. Most of the time, this is true. But the Food and Drug Administration acknowledges that “if fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation).”

So she’s wrong on both the argument being put forward by Republicans, and the substance of the matter.

Media Misses

Claire McCaskill — formerly a Democratic senator representing Missouri and now an MSNBC contributor — talked about her Fourth of July plans on Morning Joe:

We’re going to start a new family tradition in my family. On the Fourth of July and every Fourth of July going forward, we’re going to watch that video that the New York Times put together of January 6.

It’s not exactly what It’s a Wonderful Life is to Christmas, but every great tradition has to start somewhere! For her family’s sake, we hope that this was just poorly thought-out political preening.

– CNN came under fire on Thursday for a recent story in which it referred to “Lady Guadalupe, a catholic icon symbolizing protection against bad things.”

Father Matthew P Schneider wrote in a tweet that the line “sounds so completely wrong that I have trouble believing it’s just ignorance. I can kind of understand 1 person being mistaken, but a reporter is supposed to verify information.”

CNN later amended the line to read, “Lady Guadalupe, considered a national symbol and matriarch for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, as well as an important Catholic figure.”

-Joy Reid blasted Republican South Dakota governor Kristi Noem on Thursday for sending the National Guard to Texas to assist with what Reid called a “nonexistent crisis” at the southern border.

“It would appear that our inaugural Absolute Worst is jealous of all the attention that our two record-holders, Republican Governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Florida’s Ron DeSantis and so she’s sending South Dakota’s National Guard troops roaming, deploying them to the southern border of Texas, joining MAGA sycophant DeSantis and the governors of Iowa and Nebraska in sending ‘help’ to the border,” Reid said. “50 National Guard troops are being deployed in response to Greg Abbott’s plea for more border security for a nonexistent crisis.”

Reid claimed Noem’s announcement was a “word salad” of “GOP talking points.”

“Actually Kristi, your message is ‘I’m running for president in 2024. This is how I pander to the MAGA crowd and check the box on immigration fearmongering to compete with Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis. Yay!’” Reid said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers from both parties have expressed concern over the record-breaking influx of migrants at the U.S.–Mexico border that has overwhelmed U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

-Vogue announced last week that its August issue would feature First Lady Jill Biden. The announcement led Fox News to note that while the last three Democratic first ladies have served as cover models for the Conde Nast publication, the magazine has never had a Republican first lady or elected official on the cover of the magazine since its conception in 1892. Republican first ladies including Laura Bush, Barbara Bush, and Nancy Reagan were all photographed for the magazine, but not featured on the cover.

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Originally Posted on: https://www.nationalreview.com/news/the-end-of-the-supreme-court-term-revealed-hysterics-posing-as-legal-analysts/
[By: Isaac Schorr & Brittany Bernstein

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