Morning Ethics Heat-Up, 5/18/2022: More Judicial Review And Lies

Because I was otherwise obsessed, I missed noting yesterday a true landmark in law and ethics. It was that date in 1954 when a unanimous the  Supreme Court handed down the unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, ruling that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Linda Brown, a young African American girl had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

Written in 1896 as the KKK roamed the South, the SCOTUS ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson held that “separate but equal” accommodations in railroad cars conformed to the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. Plessy was interpreted as justifying segregation in everything from buses to water fountains to elementary schools. The white school Brown attempted to attend was far superior to her the segregation-mandated alternative and miles closer to her home, so The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People  took up Linda’s cause. Thurgood Marshall led Brown’s legal team, and on May 17, 1954, Plessy was overturned after 58 years as “the law of the land” despite the siren call of stare decisus. The opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren declared that “separate but equal” was an unconstitutional doctrine in ringing terms: “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”  A year later, the Supreme Court published guidelines requiring public school systems to integrate “with all deliberate speed.”

1. Prudent and responsible, if not courageous. Speaking of SCOTUS, newly confirmed Justice-in-Waiting Ketanji Brown Jackson sat for an interview by the Washington Post and was asked about the leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion in the Dobbs abortion case. Conservative media was triggered by this section:

Q: What was your response when you when you saw the draft leak [of a Supreme Court opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade]?

A: Everybody who is familiar with the court and the way in which it works was shocked by that. Such a departure from normal order.

Q: Do you think it was a good thing or a bad thing?

A: I can’t answer that.

Q: What do you think about peaceful protests outside of Supreme Court justices’ homes?

A: I don’t have any comment.

Charles Cooke at the National Review writes, “This ranges from somewhere between cowardly and sinister, much like the failure of the justices to issue a joint statement that echoes the chief justice’s condemnation of the leak and statement of determination to identify the leaker, and that condemns the protests, which violate federal law.”

Wrong. SCOTUS justices should not issue opinions on such matters. Her statement that the leak was a breach of the normal order was factual, and breaches of normal order in any institution are unethical. She was right to go no further. As for the demonstrators, some of them may be arrested at some point, and a statement by a Supreme Court Justice regarding their conduct could interfere with a fair trial.

Her responses give me more reason to trust Jackson’s judgment, not less.

2. Why didn’t Instagram take down this misinformation/disinformation by actress Viola Davis? [Pointer: Michael Ejercito]

It’s a rhetorical question, of course. This is more of what social media and Big Tech regard is GOOD misinformation: painting the legal system and law enforcement as racist, you see, is good.

Viola Davis is an excellent actress, but the meme is factually and legally crap. I don’t recognize all of those faces, but the omission of the crucial information regarding which individuals resisted arrest makes the thing per se misleading. Among the faces I do recognize, Mike Brown was not murdered based on a jury’s verdict, so stating he was is a lie, straight up. So is the same characterization of Breonna Taylor‘s accidental shooting: I recognize her.

3. Translation: OK. We got caught in our lie. Never mind!”

4. And more judicial review: Aw, Jamelle Bouie won’t like this one bit!

 Los Angeles Maureen Duffy-Lewis ruled that the California law requiring all corporations to have women on their boards is unconstitutional. The law that would have required boards have up to three female directors by this year violated the right to equal treatment. I thought it was clear from the start that this law was unconstitutional, and I’m pretty sure I wrote that here in 2018 when the law was passed.  The conservative legal group Judicial Watch sued, claiming it was illegal to use taxpayer funds to enforce a law that violates the equal protection clause of the California Constitution by mandating a gender-based quota.

As Judicial Watch stated in a triumphal press release,

In the Court’s 23-page verdict, the Court specifically found that “S.B. 826’s goal was to achieve general equity or parity; its goal was not to boost California’s economy, not to improve opportunities for women in the workplace nor not to protect California taxpayers, public employees, pensions and retirees.” Further, the Court found that “putting more women on boards demonstrated that the Legislature’s actual purpose was gender-balancing, not remedying discrimination.” “There is no Compelling Governmental interest in remedying discrimination in the board selection process because neither the Legislature nor Defendant could identify any specific, purposeful, intentional and unlawful discrimination to be remedied,” Judge Duffy-Lewis said.

Now watch California try to fight the decision all the way to the Supreme Court, knowing that it will lose, but in full confidence that Democrats will be able to use the defeat to continue to try to undermine the institution.

5. Utter incompetence has its consequences! Senate Democrats canceled a Senate  Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing they had scheduled to learn about the new “disinformation board.” The head of the Orwellian device, Nina Jankowicz , would have to testify, and after her embarrassing self-posted videos went viral, Senate Democrats decided that the May 10 hearing on “disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation” would give Republicans a chance to highlight the absurdity of her appointment. Jankowicz also falsely labeled Hunter Biden’s laptop a “Russian influence op,” and Democrats don’t want that topic raised either.

Both the creation of the Disinformation Governance Board and the appointment of Jankowicz to head it are signature significance demonstrating an intent to censor, incompetence in staffing, and contempt for the intelligence of the American public, all reflecting the undeniable ineptitude of the Biden Administration. The news media will, of course, bury the debacle as well as it can, but the line “You can run but you can’t hide” has seldom been more appropriate.


22 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Heat-Up, 5/18/2022: More Judicial Review And Lies

  1. Not condemning the protests makes complete sense to me because that issue will probably come before the court.

    But what about the leak? If Justice Roberts has condemned it, why would it be out of line for her to do so?

  2. Oh noes! DHS’ “disinformation expert” has called it quits.

    Expert hired to run DHS’ newly created disinformation board resigns
    The disinformation expert hired to run the Department of Homeland Security’s newly created disinformation board has resigned after the department paused the board.
    Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation expert with experience working on Ukraine and Russia issues, was tapped to helm the “Disinformation Governance Board” earlier this month. The interagency team was meant to coordinate department activities related to disinformation aimed at the US population and infrastructure.
    But Jankowicz’s appointment quickly drew condemnation from GOP lawmakers and right-wing media, who pointed to her past tweets and statements regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop and Christopher Steele, the author of the so-called Steele Dossier. After DHS decided to pause the board, Jankowicz made the decision to resign, she said in a statement released through a spokesperson…

    And, of course, perpetual victim Taylor Lorenz has the “hottest” pre-resignation take on the matter:
    How the Biden administration let right-wing attacks derail its disinformation efforts

      • Ann Althouse’s reaction, gleeful and mocking, is fun. Snippet:

        Ha ha ha. “Let right-wing attacks derail” — that’s rich. The idea was so bad, they couldn’t defend it. Let derail. Ha. Like it was a train, locomoting powerfully down the track…. No, it wasn’t. It never had any traction. It went kablooey only because everyone didn’t lay down and let it go by entirely unimpeded. Ha ha ha. Good news. Good news, sillily delivered…They couldn’t defend it, and now Taylor Lorenz is excusing their not defending it on the ground they failed to defend it. As if there was, somewhere, a good argument. They were challenged and “caught flat-footed,” because they hadn’t been given the arguments and they didn’t know any. They didn’t even know “what the board would actually be doing.” That means “the outrage” was justified. “Quell the outrage” — give me a break… Who thought it was a good idea to use the government to help “government, the media and educational bodies” “understand” how political rhetoric works? Taylor Lorenz is openly stating that the Disinformation Governance Board was supposed to go after the right wing!

      • My personal favorite was Psaki saying the Disinformation Board dates back to the Trump administration. Of course, it does, Jen.

        And where do I go to become certified as a disinformation expert? Is there any type of expert our government by experts can’t gin up in a New York minute?

  3. 5. I don’t think “incompetence in staffing” is accurate. I think Ron Klain and all the rest know full well they are nominating far left extremists to these positions as a “fuck you” to anyone who’s not on board with their attempt to totally remake the country.

      • They, the people in the administration, strike me as impervious to fiascos. That’s why I think these … let’s call them “situations,” keep occurring. They’re not accidents or mistakes. They are part of the program. And they will continue as long as these people are in power. To put it in the vernacular, it’s what they do. It’s who they are. These recurring situations are (more vernacular) a feature, not a bug. They don’t even consider this caper a fiasco. After all, the woman is a disinformation expert. She’s perfectly qualified. Nothing to see here. These people are zealots. And they also think they are bullet proof.

        • I believe this administration is completely unprecedented. They’re doing all this goofy stuff on purpose.

          • “Competence” is simply a white supremacist racist construct designed to oppress people of color. This administration is intent upon demonstrating competence is not a requirement for a successful administration. Clearly, anyone can run the federal government and this administration is going to prove it.

            • True, though I would consider “running the federal government” and “running the federal government into the ground” to be two different things.

              I’m pretty sure those are synonymous to this administration.

  4. #3: Strange…my wife and I both got our first shots in January of 2021, and we weren’t even in the first few priority groups.
    The rest of the replacement tweet is typical SloJo puffery and lies as well. He had nothing to do with vaccine development, of course (sort of a necessary component, one might think), and the vax rate was already, for all practical purposes, at his stated target of 100 million in 100 days when Trump left office (983,000/day).

  5. The disinformation board and the new press secretary so far are particularly bad, except the press secretary is a bit more likeable.

    Taylor Lorenz is also now a social justice warrior. How can you defend someone who is the head of the disinformation board making objectively false statements? Her whole job would have been to police misinformation, and she peddled misinformation!

    Based on this logic, I should teach high school math. Even though I was an average student, as long as I am buddy buddy with the principle and support the principal at the school, I can get a job anywhere! There is definitely a crony connection somewhere. I’m just waiting for a journalist to expose it.

  6. Regarding Number 5:

    The Headline almost reads like an Onion (or Babylon Bee) headline: “How the Biden administration let right-wing attacks derail its disinformation efforts”

    But, this goes directly into your motif that the narrative that the story is the Republican attack on the REAL story.


  7. There needs to be a unit of measure for exceptionally stupid ideas.

    The Ministry of Truth lasted 0.677 CNN+s, But CNN+ lasted 0.09 Quibis. Jankowicz lasted 0.1 Scaramuccis.

  8. Before this administration raised their hands falsely swearing they would uphold the constitution I participated in vaccine trials and administered the vaccine to the public, en masse, from December 2020 onward.

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