It’s a neverending story, how reporters can so mangle their description of the work of the Supreme Court as to give readers the impression that the Court is just another legislative body considering the public policy merits of the laws they are asked to assess for their constitutionality. Okay, so sometimes the Court itself contributes to this perception. But here’s the latest in the dope-slap sweepstakes, in the lead of an Associated Press story:
Each time the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on medical marijuana, the justices have come down against allowing the sick and dying to use the drug to ease their symptoms and possibly prolong life.Okay, one more time. The Supreme Court has never, never, never “ruled on medical marijuana.” It has never “come down” either for or against the substantive merits of the question whether marijuana ought to be allowed for the sick and dying.
What it has ruled on, most recently, is the constitutional question whether Congress can forbid any and all uses of marijuana, including the medical use authorized by a state legislature. Capisce? Notice the difference?
A note to editors on this story says writer David Kravets “has been covering state and federal courts for more than a decade.” I think he needs another beat.