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Oyez: Not Trustworthy?


I’ve discussed before the phenomenon of a textbook repeating the right-wing canard that Bush v. Gore was 7-2. And now I see that Oyez, normally a valuable resource, is printing a lie about the vote in the case:

the per curiam opinion held 7-2 that the Florida Supreme Court’s scheme for recounting ballots was unconstitutional.

This claim is straightforwardly factually erroneous (it’s not even phrased in a weaselly technically-accurate-but-misleading way, like “7 justices found an equal protection violation of some sort.”) Breyer and Souter dissented. Full stop. They did not concur in part and dissent in part. They did not join the equal protection analysis of the majority, period; this is not a matter of debate. The fact that they identified an equal protection problem does not mean that they identified the same equal protection problem as the per curiam. To say that Breyer and Souter only disagreed about the remedy is missing the point; Breyer and Souter were pointing out that the remedy was wholly inconsistent with the equal protection violation they found. The difference on the remedy was also a difference on the merits.

Anyway, the per curiam opinion had 5 votes, not 7, and it’s dismaying that a resource so many students rely on is repeating right-wing spin in the immediate wake of the decision rather than the actual facts of the case. (Interestingly, the much-maligned Wikipedia actually gets it right.)

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