It took journalists this long to figure that out?

Smug hacks on their way to destroy the country

Paul Waldman has suddenly figured out that the conservative justices lied in their confirmation hearings. And now, just now, it’s time to admit it.

They lied.

Yes, I’m talking about the conservative justices on the Supreme Court, and the abortion rights those justices have now made clear they will eviscerate.

They weren’t just evasive, or vague, or deceptive. They lied. They lied to Congress and to the country, claiming they either had no opinions at all about abortion, or that their beliefs were simply irrelevant to how they would rule. They would be wise and pure, unsullied by crass policy preferences, offering impeccably objective readings of the Constitution.

It. Was. A. Lie.

We went through the same routine in the confirmation hearings of every one of those justices. When Democrats tried to get them to state plainly their views on Roe v. Wade, they took two approaches. Some tried to convince everyone that they would leave it untouched. Others, those already on record proclaiming opposition to abortion rights, suggested they had undergone a kind of intellectual factory reset enabling them to assess the question anew with an unspoiled mind, one concerned only with the law.

It is astonishing that the media took this long to realize what was obvious to everyone. The Trumpkins knew it, and were giggling behind their palms about getting away with it. Everyone else knew it, too, but felt trapped by an unwarranted respect for norms and knowing that the media was in the bag and would ridicule the simple words, “they’re lying”. It was a real emperor’s new clothes kind of situation and everyone went along with it.

What’s also appalling is that those fuckers knew that had to lie. That opposing the established law of Roe v. Wade would instantly scuttle their nomination, that the electorate would rise up and make it impossible for many politicians to support their nomination. So they lied. They misled everyone until they could hide behind their Supreme Court tenure. Now they get to wreck civil rights in this country, their aim all along.

They were ashamed of their position. They knew it could only be whispered in the darkness until they got power, and then once they’d brought down that veil of darkness on the land, then and only then could they shout it out loud.

You know what else burns?

But sometimes the right puts its purposes in the open. There was a particularly striking exchange between Laura Ingraham and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on Fox News, where Ingraham grew inexplicably enraged over the mere possibility that Roe might not be overturned.

“If we have six Republican appointees on this court,” she said, “after all the money that’s been raised, the Federalist Society, all these big fat-cat dinners — I’m sorry, I’m pissed about this — if this court with six justices cannot do the right thing here,” then Republicans should “blow it up” and pass some kind of law limiting the court’s authority.

“I would do that in a heartbeat,” Cruz responded.

In other words: We bought this court, and we’d better get what we paid for.

Yep, we’re a third-rate banana republic where the law is for sale to the highest bidder.

“Endorsed by the Federalist Society” ought to be a huge black mark against any judicial nominee. Will our representatives see it that way? Don’t count on it.

It was all a lie, a scam, a con: the assurances that they were blank slates committed to “originalism” and “textualism,” that they wouldn’t “legislate from the bench,” that they have no agenda but merely a “judicial philosophy.”

Somehow that philosophy nearly always produces results conservatives want: undermining voting rights, enhancing corporate power, constraining the rights of workers, enabling the proliferation of guns, and now most vividly, allowing state governments to force women to carry pregnancies to term against their will.

From this day forward, no one should be naive enough to believe a word any conservative says on this subject, except for those few who forthrightly proclaim that the Supreme Court must read right-wing policy preferences into the Constitution. There was never any mystery about who these justices are and what they would do. There were only liars saying otherwise, and fools who chose to believe them.

Fools run the media in America, then.


  1. stroppy says

    I’ll believe journalists have figured it out when that realization moves out of an op-ed page here and there and into widespread reporting,

  2. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    It’s a pernicious myth that good reporting means presenting both sides equally. No. Proper reporting, especially investigative journalism – which is why I pay / tolerate your ads – is because I want you to figure out the truth and lay out the evidence for it instead of waffling and not telling me anything useful. This worship of “false balance” in modern journalism has to go. Meh.

  3. raven says

    Paul Waldman has suddenly figured out that the conservative justices lied in their confirmation hearings.
    It is astonishing that the media took this long to realize what was obvious to everyone.

    This is old new that isn’t even news. We all knew it at the time. It’s probably worth mentioning for the record but that is about it. In other news, today is December 06, 2021.

    That opposing the established law of Roe v. Wade would instantly scuttle their nomination, that the electorate would rise up and make it impossible for many politicians to support their nomination.

    This is very arguable.
    For much of the 21st century, the GOP has controlled the presidency and the Senate, where US Supreme court appointments are voted on.
    Even if they told the truth, it is likely they would still end up on the court.

  4. Dauphni says

    A simple solution would be to conduct the supreme court confirmation hearings under oath, so that if they lie they can be prosecuted for perjury.


  5. raven says

    It. Was. A. Lie.

    Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop abortions.
    We knew that decades ago.
    What overturning Roe versus Wade will do is simply make a huge number of people, mostly women and new born children more miserable.
    It’s all so very fundie xian.

    What the impending Supreme court ruling will also do is…destroy the legitimacy of the Supreme court. This is a political science term that means the government depends on the consent of the governed. Britannica “popular acceptance of a government, political regime, or system of governance.”
    The Supreme court depends on this heavily because it has no enforcement powers of its own.

    Everyone will know as the opening OP states, that the court is made up of religious kooks and outright liars.

  6. Allison says

    It doesn’t surprise me that “the media” acted like they didn’t know that the justices in question were going to scuttle Roe v Wade. The mainstream media (MSM for short) have always parroted whatever lies those in power wanted spoken. That was obvious to me at least by the time of the Vietnam War. They knew the US was losing, that the US was committing atrocities, that the “body count” numbers were BS, but they reported them anyway. More recently, like during the US covert campaign against Nicaragua, or during the run-up to the second Iraq war, they’d report the evidence that contradicted the administration line, but then the next day it would be “forgotten” and the blatently obvious lies of the administration would be reported as “truth” (cf: Ministry of Truth.)

    Fox News and ONA are simply more blatant versions of what the press have been doing for I don’t know how long — feeding the populace the propaganda that the power structure wants them to believe.

  7. stroppy says

    What appears on op-ed pages is distinguished from letters to the editor by better writing, and that’s about it. I wouldn’t call it journalism.

    Journalists have tended to perpetuate the vision of the Supreme Court as a sort of Mount Olympus, only with with better behaved gods. But it’s hard to ignore the implications of what Justice Sotomayor has said.

    “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don’t see how it is possible.”

    Perceptions can change. I’m gratified to see, for instance, that journalists regularly and openly refer to Trump’s election gibberish as “the big lie.” And they have slowly, if reluctantly dialed back the he-said/she-said clickbait stenography on climate change.

    We’ll see.

  8. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ &

    Oh, but it’s not a “lie.” That’s merely what their legal opinion was when they were first up for confirmation. However, since then, after much deep study and debate they’ve come to the opposite legal conclusion.

  9. says

    Fox News and ONA are simply more blatant versions of what the press have been doing for I don’t know how long — feeding the populace the propaganda that the power structure wants them to believe.

    Thomas Jefferson financially supported a newspaper to attack his enemies. I don’t know how long the press have been doing this either, but in the US it goes all the way back.

  10. wsierichs says

    The reporters knew the nominees were lying. They knew Collins was lying about being on the fence, that she inevitably would support the evil, lying nominees. The problem is that the mass media are corporate owned and therefore right-wing and pro-Republican. That’s why they treat politics like sports – they don’t care if a policy or law is good or bad; they only care that the corporate-friendly politicians are elected. That’s all the mass media care about today.

  11. robro says

    It’s been pretty clear that Republicans have been stacking the Federal courts at all levels for years with fellow travelers. Their agenda beyond the issues they’ve used to divide and conquer voters…abortion, school prayer, guns, gay rights…to the more fundamental reason for their long-term program: protecting the wealth of rich cooperations and their ability to control politics. Right now they are solidifying their control on state governments and presidential elections as a consequence of their other hidden agenda and the indifference to national elections promoted by some: legislative redistricting. By the time they get done, the chances for Democrats gets smaller and smaller. Then they can go full tilt toward all that FDR New Deal stuff like Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and so forth.

  12. says

    I don’t think anyone was ashamed of their position. I think they’ve simply accepted lying as being morally justified to achieve their goals. It’s the same with rigging elections. It’s OK for them to cheat because their ultimate goal is just.

  13. R. L. Foster says

    We are convinced that once they’ve accomplished gutting Roe they will come after birth control and revisit gay marriage. After all, the Constitution is “silent” on those subjects as well. Funny how so many of the issues that animate the religious right always have to do with sex, who’s having it, why, and with whom. Once that sperm hits an egg it’s time call the police.

  14. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 15

    Funny how so many of the issues that animate the religious right always have to do with sex, who’s having it, why, and with whom.

    That’s mainly because the authors of the Abrahamic religions were either uptight patriarchs who wanted to control over their women and offspring, or apocalyptical ascetics who thought pleasure was evil because it distracted us from our true purpose: Groveling before their perpetually angry and needy god.

  15. wzrd1 says

    Well, they testified under oath, so they perjured themselves before the Senate. That’s impeachable and the effect predictable and political poison for the GOP.
    Then, Congress fix via codified law whatever the scofflaw SCOTUS fucks up.
    The only other remedy available requires a lead/antimony alloy be applied at high velocity, which isn’t one of my recommended courses of action.
    Well, that or pouring a few dozen yards of high early strength concrete into the entranceways to the court building… If their staff can’t get in, zero work can be done by the scofflaw court.

  16. yknot says

    In March 2016, Mitch McConnell blocked hearings on Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, because the Senate ought not consider SCOTUS nominations during an election year. In September 2020, Mitch McConnell rushed hearings on Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, because he could. Don’t even pretend everybody didn’t know then the fix was in.

  17. Aaron says

    Neither side is incompetent. Both Republicans and Democrats are doing exactly what they set out to do, which is “what capital wants”. Looking like they’re stumbling over their own feet in their inability to actually get something that we, the people, want done is all part of the ruse.

  18. seachange says

    The owners of the media are well aware of what they allow to publish and not-publish. They are also trying to make money. There is nothing ‘foolish’ about them. This is why it was a betrayal of the American people when limits on ownerships within media markets were removed. There’s nothing left to keep them honest and why should they?

    The Democrats have been complicit in the rightward swing of the judiciary. For the last forty years they overtly acted as if they allowing this to happen was them being goody two shoes and that this was more important than winning. As if this result wasn’t a win for them.

    Oh golly oh gosh the party that was the conservative party at the time very young Joe Biden got first elected and which switched over to being ‘liberal’ because Lyndon Johnson grew a concience is not so liberal after all.

  19. says

    American conservatives have been saying forever that the US is a “Christian nation”. One of their goals is to make that a reality and I feel most of us will see this in our lifetimes.

    Good luck to the libertarians and “classic liberals” who got into bed with the religious right to bring your country to this point.

  20. chrislawson says


    That kind of both-siderism is as bad a lie as the Republican judges’. The Democrats did NOT get what they wanted in the Supreme Court. They nominated Garland, who was blocked by the Republicans so effectively the nom didn’t even get to the vote. They fought the appointments of Barnett, Kavanaugh (except for that quisling Manchin — who if he’d followed the rest of his D colleagues would have stalemated the vote), and Gorsuch.

  21. wzrd1 says

    @seachange #21, what else do you expect, given that both “sides” billion dollar party campaigns are paid for by the same deep pocketed special interests?
    So, we got ix of one, half dozen of the other. Got, as Trump kind of destabilized that apple cart, although if he damages things much more, I suspect that that money will cease flowing in at least one direction.

  22. PaulBC says

    I would have thought Clarence Thomas’s confirmation would put to rest any presumption of honesty on the part of SCOTUS nominees. For all I know, Bork actually did answer honestly, and while it’s a good thing he was not confirmed it may have been his undoing.

    I agree with chrislawson@23 Republicans are eating our lunch. Democrats are idiots but not so abject as to invite this abuse willingly. We just suck at this.

  23. John Morales says

    PaulBC, as I see it, it’s the essential asymmetry at hand.

    Assholes on one side get lauded and re-elected, but they get rejected on the other.
    Alas, political asshole behaviour is the more effective, when the only check is the reaction of electors.

    Same goes for personal failures.

    So no, it’s not about sucking at it, it’s about what the elector base will tolerate.

    (Remember Al Franken?)

  24. nomuse says

    Well, yes.
    All the way through the confirmation hearings, the prospect would say, “I was educated in the law by a good school, I practiced law in prestigious positions, it is a gross insult to say that I would let my personal views or bias color my legal decisions.”

    Meanwhile, “And we need to appoint him to fight back against the Liberal Justices” — you know, the same ones who went to the same law school and practiced in the same positions and also promised to uphold the law — “who are clearly biased in their legal decisions!”

    So, Liberal bias is possible, but Conservative bias is unthinkable? Hah!

  25. stroppy says

    It’s certainly easier to be destructive than constructive. Republicans have embraced the destructive, and unfortunately a lot of Democratic voters can’t seem to shake the notion that “it can’t happen here.”

    It’s like one of those cults that embrace harmful mortification, only Trumpsters go to the next level and take pride in wounding the mind, their own and others. Well it’s a death cult in a race to the bottom, like one percenter bikers who revel in being the worst of the worst.

    That’s my view, others are more scientific and level-headed about it. Maybe someday agnotologists studying cultivated ignorance will come up with a standardized scale with a rigorously defined Unit of Stupidity.

  26. unclefrogy says

    not to be forgotten who or what is going on.

    . That’s why they treat politics like sports – they don’t care if a policy or law is good or bad; they only care that the corporate-friendly politicians are elected. That’s all the mass media care about today.

    when making money is the supreme value and purpose anything that hinders that is unthinkable.
    This country was settled by europeans mostly in order to make money.
    It may have been a mistake to frame the “Cold War” as a conflict between “capitalism” and “communism ” because it drove us toward corporate interests more then “liberty and justice for all”. In doing so our governments founding principles were secondary to the free market and corporate interests. The government took a side instead of insuring the right and liberties of all the populace equally. The “cold war ” should have been between the forces of authoritarianism like it was at the beginning against the english crown and for the rights and liberty of all people to govern themselves democratically.
    So here we are with the result of that struggle. democracy has not come to pass in russia (yet) and our democratic government is slipping away. making money and using power seems to be winning at the moment in both countries.

  27. rrhain says

    Can we finally get the Senators do dismiss the “I don’t want to get into hypotheticals” response?

    No, candidate for the highest court in the land: This vetting process is precisely dependent upon us asking you hypotheticals and you running through your process on how the law might play out so that we can determine if your ability to manage the exceedingly crucial task of interpreting the Constitution is up to snuff. We all understand that individual cases are going to require individual scrutiny and thus may not necessarily follow along on what you say in this hearing, but you need to go on record right here and now about how you approach such cases, what sort of information you want to see, how previous precedents would impact future cases brought before you, and just what is going on inside that precious little head of yours before we give you the keys to the court.

    The idea that you cannot remain “impartial” just because you thought generally about a case before a specific one came to you would seem to indicate that you cannot serve as a justice in and of itself. It is the profession of a justice to think about the law, to think about how it is to be applied, to be aware of what our history of jurisprudence has said so that when a case comes to you, you can use your wisdom to help the petitioners before you achieve justice. If you were to be completely ignorant and naive of everything that had come before, how could you possibly know if evidence being presented to you violates standards? How could you possibly understand that you are being asked to break precedent? Or be able to explain why past precedent needs to be broken?

    And before you claim that you “haven’t given the matter any thought,” be aware that that immediately disqualifies you as a justice for the Supreme Court. You are being asked about some of the most pressing matters that have ever been put to the court and have been at the forefront of judicial hand-wringing for decades. The people who are endorsing you are doing so precisely because of their opinion about how you stand on these matters. So unless you’re suggesting that they’re all a mob of fools who couldn’t possibly have any reason to endorse you because you want to put forward the claim that this issue has never crossed your mind until just now when you were questioned on it at your confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court, then we’re going to have to take that as you lying to Congress which, I remind you, is a crime. You swore to tell the truth before this committee and it would be highly ironic for a candidate to the Supreme Court to violate their oath to provide true testimony.

    So which is it, candidate? Are you incompetent because you haven’t thought about it? Incompetent because you can’t actually provide judicial reasoning upon the matter at hand? Or are you merely a fraud hiding behind a false pretense of “impartiality” when we can all see the political posturing you are prancing to?

  28. KG says

    our governments founding principles were secondary to the free market and corporate interests. – unclefrogy@30

    The USA was founded on the unfettered right of property-owning white men to keep that property – including human property, and add to it by displacing the inhabitants of the rest of the continent