How SCOTUS urban legends are made

No, the Supreme Court did not rule that firing a woman for breastfeeding is okay because men can lactate too. [Philip Miles, Lawffice Space]

P.S. Snopes weighs in (headlines “create a grossly misleading impression based upon one very minor element of a single aspect of the case”), prompting the ACLU’s Galen Sherwin to try a rescue mission in hopes readers would not lose interest in the case entirely once deprived of its clickbait elements. Raw Story, which did much to spread the silly meme, has now appended an easy-to-miss correction; Slate, which slapped an equally ridiculous headline on an Amanda Marcotte post, as of this writing has not.


  • Reader J.B. comments,

    I’m trying to decide whether it would be a net plus for the system if this bogus controversy at least created a mild disincentive for lower-court judges not to get carried away speculating in footnotes about potential alternative rationales for a decision. The footnote could just have said e.g. “defendants have pointed out that there are some circumstances in which certain women who have not recently been pregnant do in fact lactate and my law clerk’s googling has informed me that there are even some circumstances in which men lactate, but the legal consequences of those facts need not be resolved in this case.”

  • Also, this is installment number 7,319 in the Amanda Marcotte got it wrong files.

  • As the Italian saying has it, Se non è vero, è molto ben trovato: “Even if it’s not true, it’s a great story.”

    All that is necessary is to push the narrative and count on the rubes to bite.

  • The unfortunate thing is how fast these false click-bait stories spread! I heard the “because men lactate, too” story from about 5 different sources before I found out what the truth was. (And yes, I was skeptical from the get-go.)

    Nobody will remember the actual story; people won’t pay for news anymore.

  • Reader David Link writes,

    Thanks for posting. I read the headline originally, figured it was click-bait without much substance, and passed it by. But there was that tiny little gremlin in my brain nagging me — “I kind of do want to know what the paper thin slice of lunchmeat inside the B.S. sandwich was…”

  • When facts come via a law clerk’s googling, I suppose we can say that the court took judicial gnotice of them.