CNN reporter gets big language lesson after trying to reshape Kavanaugh’s absentee ballot opinion

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A CNN reporter was dragged on social media following a failed attempt to ‘fact-check’ a concurring opinion from Justice Brett Kavanaugh in regards to a Supreme Court ruling over absentee ballots in Wisconsin.

“Kavanaugh said ‘most states’ require absentee ballots to arrive by Election Day to get counted. That’s technically true but really misleading,” reporter Marshall Cohen posted on Twitter with a screenshot of Kavanaugh’s opinion.

“‘Most’ in this case is 28 states. The other 22 states and DC accept ballots that are postmarked on Election Day but arrive later,” he continued.

In a subsequent post, Cohen wrote, “Also: Don’t forget that a broad swath of states accept late-arriving ballots with Election Day postmarks. And they don’t think it leads to ‘suspicions of impropriety.’ This includes liberal bastions like CA/IL, swing states like OH/IA, and Republican strongholds like MS/WV. (2/2).”

Cohen’s initial post drew the most pushback, with users noting that there isn’t anything incorrect or controversial about Kavanaugh’s notation.

“I’m so sorry this is happening to you,” The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis wrote.

“He doesn’t math well,” wrote a user called Zombie Breitbart.


The opinion from Kavanaugh stems from a 5-3 Supreme Court ruling on Monday reversing a lower federal court decision earlier this month granted a request but Wisconsin Democrats and left-leaning organizations to extend the Election Day deadline for receiving absentee ballots.

Democrats in the state sought to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to extend mail-in and absentee balloting by as much as a week, which contravened state statutes.

President Donald Trump narrowly won Wisconsin in 2016 over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton 47.2 to 46.5, or roughly 22,000 votes.

The previous week, the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 on a similar case involving Pennsylvania. In that case, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the high court’s liberals.

In his concurring Wisconsin opinion, Roberts described the difference:

While the Pennsylvania applications implicated the authority of state courts to apply their own constitutions to election regulations, this case involves federal intrusion on state lawmaking processes. Different bodies of law and different precedents govern these two situations and require, in these particular circumstances, that we allow the modification of election rules in Pennsylvania but not Wisconsin.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s first appointee, concurred with Kavanaugh as well.

“No one doubts that conducting a national election amid a pandemic poses serious challenges,” he wrote. “But none of that means individual judges may improvise with their own election rules in place of those the people’s representatives have adopted.”

On Friday, Pennsylvania Republicans once again asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Democrat-imposed ballot extension to allow a full nine-member court, with the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, to consider it.

“The Supreme Court’s “timely intervention,” Pennsylvania Republicans wrote, “could provide desperately needed clarity and help states avoid the sort of last-minute changes in election rules this Court has consistently warned against.”

The state Supreme Court, in its original decision extending balloting by three days, ruled that even ballots with no postmark or an unclear postmark would be counted.

The decision to extend in Pennsylvania is a violation of state law requiring ballots to be postmarked by Election Day and for signatures to be verified, Republicans argue.

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Jon Dougherty

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