Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Re: AP


The passage I complained about has been amended to read:  “the court for the first time upheld a nationwide ban on an abortion procedure.”  A couple quick comments: 

1.  I am ready to assume that the initial passage was an inartful error made under deadline pressure.  But the nature of the error is telling.  It’s rather as though a reporter on the baseball beat wrote that a baseball team wasn’t scoring many touchdowns.  A reader would fairly conclude that the reporter doesn’t really know the basics of baseball.  The best mitigating defense I could offer here is that the reporter operates in a broader legal culture that confuses or obscures the basics. 

2.  The new passage is rather curious.  Unlike all the other case descriptions in the article, it makes no effort at a neutral and informative description of what the court actually held.  In particular, there is no mention (even euphemistically) of partial-birth abortion.  Moreover, while the new passage is technically accurate, it confuses the innocent reader by mistakenly implying that the court had previously rejected nationwide (i.e., federal) bans on abortion procedures.  The case was in fact the first time the Court ever addressed “a nationwide ban on an abortion procedure.”  Unconsciously or otherwise, the new passage seems to embrace the spin of abortion-advocacy groups.

Tags: Whelan


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