Commerce Clause, Covid-19, Delta Variant, Ed Morrissey, Elena Kagan, Hospitalizations, Major Question Doctrine, Neil Gorsuch, Omicron Variant, OSHA, Phil Kerpen, Police Powers, Sonia Satamayor, Stephen Breyer, Tenth Amendment, Transmission, Twitter, Vaccine Mandate, Ventilators
Good God! What a remarkable display of ignorance we witnessed on Friday from three different Supreme Court justices. This trio dumped buckets-full of erroneous information about the current state of the COVID pandemic, all points that are easily falsifiable. The three are Sonia Satamayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan. The flub-fest occurred during a proceeding on challenges to OSHA’s attempt to impose a nationwide vaccine mandate on private employers having more than 100 employees. I’m sorely tempted to say these jurists must know better, but perhaps they were simply parroting what they’ve heard from “reliable” media sources.
Here’s a list of the false assertions made by the three justices at the hearing, as compiled by Michael P. Sanger, along with my own brief comments:
- 100,000 children in critical care and on ventilators (Sotomayor) — Not even close!
- Vaccine mandate would prevent 100% of US cases (Breyer) — Lol!
- 750 million people tested positive last Thursday (Breyer) — That’s more than twice the U.S. population… in one day! Haha! See here.
- COVID deaths are at an all-time high (Sotomayor) — No, they are well under half of the all-time high, and many of those “announced” deaths are Delta deaths and deaths that occurred weeks to months ago.
- It’s “beyond settled” that vaccines and masks are the best way to stop the spread (Kagan) — Say what?
- COVID vaccines stop transmission (Kagan) — Is that why two fully vaccinated attorneys arguing the government’s case just tested positive?
- Federal agencies can mandate vaccines using the police powers of the federal government (Sotomayor) — Incorrect, not at their fancy. Police powers with respect to health, safety and morals are generally reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment. The Commerce Clause allows Congress to regulate these powers through federal agencies on “major questions”. Congress, however, has never acted on the question of vaccine mandates.
- Hospitals are nearing capacity (Sotomayor) — Again, no! And see here.
- Omicron is deadlier than Delta (Sotomayor) — Omicron may be more severe than the common cold in some cases, but all indications are that it has much lower severity than the Delta variant.
- Hospitals are full of unvaccinated people (Breyer) — No, on two counts: 1) hospitals are not full, and 2) there are COVID hospitalizations among the vaccinated as well. Also see here.
I’ve covered most of these points on this blog at various times in the past, a few links to which are provided in the bullets above. As one wag said, it’s almost as if these justices read nothing but the New York Times, the paper that once assured the world that Joseph Stalin was actually a pretty decent fellow. With tongue firmly in cheek, Ed Morrissey asked whether Twitter would suspend Justice Sotomayor for spreading COVID misinformation.
There also followed a desperate attempt by left-wing journalists to convince themselves and their followers that Justice Neil Gorsuch had incorrectly claimed hundreds of thousands of people die from the flu every year. The actual Gorsuch quote in the transcript reads:
“Flu kills—I believe—hundreds, thousands of people every year.”
And that indeed is what can be heard clearly on the audio (short clip here). But in the fertile imaginations of the lefty commentariat, Gorsuch uttered an extra “of”. Gorsuch was clearly correcting himself mid-sentence. As noted by Phil Kerpen, the line of questioning had to do with the establishment of a limiting principle under which OSHA could conceivably have authority to impose a vaccine mandate. Naturally, Gorsuch intended to quote a number smaller than the count of COVID deaths.
Most of the justices appeared to lean against the OSHA mandate. We’ll probably get a ruling this week. However, the episode vividly illustrates the power of the leftist mainstream media and social media to manipulate beliefs, even beliefs held by individuals of formidable intellect. It also shows how fiercely people cling to falsehoods supporting their ideological mood affiliations.