Gauging some of the critical reaction to Thursday's 9th Circuit ruling, we're sadly not surprised to see any number of blatant overreactions and inaccuracies bandied about. After all, the auto industry has seen fit to cite non-existent language in the Clean Air Act and pretend that California's standards would create an unwieldy patchwork. Seeing its defenders jump head-first into the same territory isn't much of a stretch.
Still, in reading these hyperbolic reactions, it's striking just how little attention their authors seem to have paid to the cases at hand. Take Newsday columnist Raymond J. Keating, who phones in a day-after reaction at the Business Trends blog. After leveling a tired allegation of "judicial activism" and blasting the Mass. v. EPA ruling in that vein, Keating goes on to argue that stricter CAFE standards mean "reduced safety (i.e. more deaths) on our roads and highways"-- quite ironic given that this very ruling demolishes that canard.
Perhaps the worst case, however, comes from an Investors Business Daily editorial decrying "Judicial Overreach." After angrily disputing the reality of global warming, IBD feeds readers the following
blatant lie assertion:
The only magistrate who has made sense in this case is unfortunately no longer involved. Judge Martin Jenkins of the Northern District of California initially ruled in a lower court in September that the "global warming thicket" is a political issue that should be untangled by policymakers, not the courts.
Anyone with modicum of intellectual or journalistic honesty Regular readers should instantly recognize that Jenkins' ruling came in an entirely distinct case. And while Jenkins did apply the "political question" doctrine in a broad (perhaps overreaching) way, his point of reference was whether the courts are equipped to directly determine costs and "nuisance" liability for global warming impacts. The 9th Circuit, by contrast, found that federal policymakers had violated a clear statutory obligation, and even then remanded the matter to the offending agency for a do-over rather than imposing its own judgment.
We're all for spirited and principled disagreement, and encourage it vigorously. But when voices that are either considered "mainstream" or have a large bully pulpit engage in such blatant falsehood, there's not much to be learned from it. The likes of Keating and IBD (and those who would echo their talking points) need to get a grip and come back with some actual ideas to debate.