IT WAS A 5-4 SPLIT…. Everyone knew the Ricci ruling would come down today. It was the last day of the session, and the Supreme Court hadn’t issued its decision yet. By mid-day Friday, we knew the ruling would be released early Monday.
And that, in turn, gave the various players plenty of time to come up with their carefully crafted over-the-top responses. I’m afraid some of the leading conservative activists didn’t use the time wisely.
Wendy Long, head of the Judicial Confirmation Network, which apparently exists for no other reason than to attack Democratic judicial nominees, quickly issued a statement this morning with the headline: “Not Even One Justice Approved Sotomayer In Ricci Case.” Yes, even now, Wendy Long can’t spell “Sotomayor.” The press statement went on to say:
“Frank Ricci finally got his day in court, despite the judging of Sonia Sotomayor, which all nine Justices of U.S. Supreme Court have now confirmed was in error.”
Soon after, on a Federalist Society conference call with reporters, additional conservative activists emphasized a similar line.
Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity suggested that the ruling “gives the Senate Judiciary Committee a lot to ask about” and that it brings to light her past statements on this issue.
He was joined by Gail Heriot, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law in the insistence that each of the nine Justices had rejected Sotomayor’s reasoning in her Second Circuit decision.
There’s a variety of problems with all of this, but the most obvious is the fact that the Ricci ruling was 5 to 4, not 9 to 0. Even if Wendy Long & Co. hoped to exploit the ruling to attack Sotomayor — itself a dubious proposition — they should have at least checked to see that there was a dissent, endorsed by four justices.
Raise your hand if you think Long, Clegg, or Heriot actually read all 93 pages of the ruling before sharing their analysis of the decision with reporters.
And, again, it should be clear by now, but the fact that a narrow Supreme Court majority reached a different conclusion on this case than Sotomayor is not a “rebuke” of the high court nominee. Repeating the line over and over won’t make it true.
Update: Rush Limbaugh also insisted that Ricci was “a nine-zip decision.” Is the right so far gone that they can no longer count to four? If someone can explain to me, I’m all ears.
Second Update: Ah, now I see. Brian Beutler explains that the 10th footnote in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion takes issue with a procedural matter from the appeals court. So, for these conservative activists, even the justices who agreed with Sotomayor necessarily disagreed with her, too. It doesn’t quite explain Rush calling it “nine-zip,” but that’s probably the rationale for Long, et al.