Posts Tagged ‘Brett Kavanaugh’

18,000 Facebook shares later: a tale of legal misinformation

How efficient is social media in spreading viral-junk misinformation about the law? Well, the following post about Tuesday’s two-page Supreme Court ruling in Brakebill v. Jaeger, a case about voting procedures in North Dakota, has gotten more than 18,000 shares as of this morning:

screen capture of Facebook post
Let’s take a look at its errors, or at least the first four biggies:

1. Brakebill was not Justice Kavanaugh’s first ruling. If you so much as glance at the Court’s opinion, it’s hard to miss its second sentence: “JUSTICE KAVANAUGH took no part in the consideration or decision of this application.”

2. There is no indication that the vote was 5 to 4. Liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer did not join the dissent.*

3. Justice Ginsburg’s dissent contains no language even remotely like that put within quotation marks here. Her tone is technical rather than indignant, and she does not challenge anyone’s motives as illegitimate.

4. The Court did not issue a decision upholding the laws. It was a denial of an application to vacate a stay, not a ruling on the merits.

And we haven’t even gotten to the merits! Three and a half days after posting, its author has not seen fit to correct any of his errors.

Here’s a rule of thumb about social media: the more anger, the less accuracy. More on viral junk and thinking before you share here.

* A reader on Twitter points out that in the absence of a signed majority opinion, we can’t know for sure that the vote against vacating the stay necessarily came out 6-2; we know only that if there were other Justices who wanted to vacate the stay, they declined to join the Ginsburg-Kagan dissent. I’ve corrected the text above accordingly.

Brett Kavanaugh confirmed by Senate, sworn in as Justice

The vote was 50-48, along party lines except for one Republican and one Democrat. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) explained her vote in a widely noted speech [video and transcript]

Commentary: Politico symposium with Ilya Shapiro, Ilya Somin, and others; David French (pro) and Benjamin Wittes (con) views of confirmation; point-counterpoint on Kavanaugh’s final hearing testimony from David Post (critical of nominee), Eugene Volokh response, David Post rejoinder. Those intent on defeating Kavanaugh pushed too far and he pushed back, galvanizing conservatives, writes John Podhoretz [Commentary] And a completely different view of judicial temperament [Noah Feldman on cantankerous Court personalities]

Motivated reasoning? Yes, a lot of that going around [Ilya Somin on “the extremely high correlation between what people think of the allegations and whether they believe Kavanaugh should be confirmed aside from them.”] “On the Fallibility of Memory and the Importance of Evidence” [Tyler Watkins, Quillette] “It’s important to listen to those who come forward—and also to those accused.” [Emily Yoffe, The Atlantic]

P.S. And not to forget that the bulk of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing discussed issues of jurisprudence; Randy Barnett sums up discussions of originalism, colloquy with Senator Kennedy, unenumerated rights and more, on stare decisis and following precedents, and on the Fourth Amendment.