Prominent Democrats and their allies in the media have parroted the talking point that two Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade somehow “lied” during confirmation hearings, but pundits throwing out the accusation that justices lied under oath appear to be the ones misleading Americans.
Conservative justices have been targeted by the left since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, effectively ending recognition of a constitutional right to abortion and giving individual states the power to allow, limit or ban the practice altogether.
The media has pushed a talking point, that has also been evoked by pro-abortion lawmakers, claiming justices lied during confirmation hearings when asked about Roe v. Wade.
On the day of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade’s precedent, MSNBC’s Joy Reid claimed that the court was filled with “religious zealots” who “lied” about precedent to get past “gullible senators” and land a spot on the Court.
Two days after the ruling, NBC’s Chuck Todd, during an interview with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., read off a statement from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., who said that he was “alarmed” by the ruling and “trusted” the justices to uphold the precedent.
Todd noted that it seemed Ocasio-Cortez believed that Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch lied to Manchin; Manchin was the only Democrat who voted for both judges. He voted against Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
“They lied,” Ocasio-Cortez replied.
Sirus XM shock jock radio host Howard Stern claimed that the Supreme Court lied publicly and said that it undermined their reputation. He added that they sat on TV and told America that they “would never” overturn Roe v. Wade.
MSNBC host Zerlina Maxwell also touted the narrative, asserting that the Supreme Court ruling on Roe was “contradictory” to what the justices said under oath.
The claim that the Supreme Court nominees lied was also repeated by CNN anchor Don Lemon.
Some members of the media, including late night comedian Stephen Colbert and MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner, who took it a step further when they floated the idea that the justices should be investigated and possibly impeached for perjury.
L.A. Times columnist Jackie Calmes penned a piece titled, “Brett Kavanaugh’s Roe vote proved it again — he has a truth problem,” which refers to the Trump-appointed justice as a “serial liar.”
The Times piece focused on claims made by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who suggested Kavanaugh misled her on the abortion issue in testimony and in private meetings, not when he was under oath during his confirmation hearing. The columnist pointed to notes published by The New York Times indicating Kavanaugh explained his respect for precedent when asked about Roe v. Wade, but never made any promises. Nonetheless, she concluded that “liars end up on the nation’s highest court, for life, to determine how the rest of us live our lives.”
The Arizona Republic published an opinion piece, “A liar’s guide for getting appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court,” that declared “whenever you decide to be evasive, cagey, vague, prevaricating or shifty you are, essentially, lying.”
Many print publications have embraced the debate in the form of a question, with headlines pondering whether the justices lied. Forbes went with, “Did Supreme Court Justices Lie By Claiming They Wouldn’t Overturn Roe V. Wade? Here’s What They Actually Said.”
The Dallas Morning News had a similar version, “Conservative justices vowed to respect precedent: Did they lie or just parse words?” Politifact didn’t bother to ask, going with the headline, “Yes, the Trump justices said Roe v. Wade was a precedent in confirmation hearings.”
However, investigators reviewed footage of conservative justices speaking about Roe v. Wade during confirmation hearings and none of them promised to uphold it. The justices instead carefully explained the importance of precedent when asked about the polarizing decision.
Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, said, “Roe v. Wade is an important precedent of the Supreme Court. It was decided in 1973, so it’s been on the books for a long time. It has been challenged on a number of occasions… and the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the decisions… I think that when a decision is challenged, and it is reaffirmed, that strengthens its value.”
Gorsuch, like Alito, was also asked about the 1973 ruling but never promised to uphold it.
“I would tell you that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed…. A good judge will consider it as precedent of the United States Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other,” Gorsuch said during his confirmation hearing.
Kavanaugh also called Roe v. Wade an important precedent that has been reaffirmed many times but declined to make any promises, and Barrett declared, “Roe is not a super precedent because calls for its overruling have never ceased, but that doesn’t mean that Roe should be overruled.”
In 1991, Justice Clarence Thomas refused to offer his opinion on Roe v. Wade, saying he didn’t want to compromise his ability to rule on related cases in the future.
The assertion that the Supreme Court justices lied during their nomination hearings was also debunked in a video compilation by The Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday, focusing on Democrats making the claim.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board also debunked the claim with a column, “The Justices Didn’t Lie to the Senate,” which explained that none of the conservative justices promised to uphold Roe v. Wade.
“The claims of deceit are especially unfortunate because they suggest that the Court is no different from the political branches. This is damaging to the Court’s credibility, whether the majority leans to the left or the right. The current majority won’t last forever, perhaps not even many more years, and Democrats deriding the current Court as political won’t be pleased if Republicans make the same claim when their appointees are back in the majority,” the editorial board wrote.