Factfinding and “Fact”finding

Yesterday, in his discussion of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s voter ID cases, Rick mentioned that the one example of voter fraud cited by the court was not only inapposite, but also not in evidence before the lower court.  He then said, “I believe it has become increasingly common for appellate courts to cite matters not in the record which the judges or their clerks find from a little googling.”

This citation may have been inapposite … but at least it was real.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court also claimed that “photo identification is now required . . . to board a commercially operated airline flight.”  The only problem with that statement is that — despite endless repetition in the last few years — it is still flatly not true.

I should know: in 2011, I flew to DC to testify about voter ID rules, without any photo ID in my wallet.  Exactly as regulations permit, I got on the plane just fine.  It wasn’t a fluke — it was precisely what the law required.  I wrote up the experience — and the similar experiences of others — here.

Googling information that hasn’t been adversarially tested is one thing.  But repeating known falsehoods as fact is another.

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