Bench Memos

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Borat: “Unmatched Chase Justices Showed Freakish Discretion”


If you’re going to be misquoted, perhaps it’s best to be wildly misquoted.  That is one lesson I’d draw from a couple online variants of an AP story on the Court’s recent term.


The actual AP story quoted me accurately:  “‘He [Justice Kennedy] believes it’s his role to be the grand moral conscience of the nation,’ said Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.” 


But two different online translations (here and here) of the AP story into Borat-type English generated very different results:


“He believes it’s his job to exist the sumptuous ethical honestly of the kingdom,” uttered Ed Whelan, president of the Mores with Accepted Approach Center.


“He believes it’s his function to eke out an existence the lavish upstanding honestly of the state,” put into words Ed Whelan, president of the Conduct coupled with Habitual Plan Center.


Beyond some humor with names—Justice John Paul Stevens is “Morality Bathroom Unpleasant Stevens” and “Virtue Bog Thankless Stevens”, and Justice Souter is “David Bootmaker”—the translations yield the insight quoted in the title of this post and many other observations like this:


The now lineup of justices has been newest establish on the way to clumsily two-and-a-half years, in that Alito took his station. They pretend decided to be endowed with at depth singular spare nickname cheek by jowl, nevertheless many justices could break with in vogue the adjacent scarce years.

(I’m guessing, though I haven’t found firm evidence, that these Borat-style translations are some sort of protest against AP’s new policy that its articles can’t be posted or excerpted online.)

Tags: Whelan


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