The Corner

Stop Era

A lede in today’s Miami Herald:

The U.S. Supreme Court let stand Monday a Civil War-era law that bars felons from voting in Florida, ending a five-year legal battle waged on behalf of 600,000 ex-felons by civil-rights groups who argued the lifetime ban is biased against blacks.

We can have a debate over whether barring felons from voting is a good idea — I’m considerably less offended by it than many others — but why must anybody refer to it in a newspaper lede as “a Civil War-era law”? The only reason can be a desire to make it sound antiquated, as if it’s positively backward. Old=bad. But at least there’s some truth-in-advertising here. If only more liberal journalists, when they cover Supreme Court, referred to the Constitution as a “faded, 18th-century document currently warehoused in the National Archives.” At least we’d know where they’re coming from.

John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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