Accuracy in Media

NowThis News, similar to the mainstream media, covered the controversy surrounding Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent in a recent case. But, instead of focusing on Sotomayor’s comments, NowThis News chose to cover President Donald Trump’s response to Sotomayor’s dissent.

Trump told the media that Sotomayor and fellow Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse themselves from cases involving the Trump administration. He said that Sotomayor’s accusation was “inappropriate” and opined, “I just don’t know how they cannot recuse themselves for anything Trump or Trump related.”

He also pointed out Ginsburg criticized him before: “[Sotomayor] never criticized Justice Ginsburg when she called me a ‘faker’. Both should recuse themselves.” Trump referred to Ginsburg’s 2016 comment, in which Ginsburg called Trump a “faker” and later apologized after public outcry.

Sotomayor’s dissent accused the court’s conservative-leaning justices of blatant partisanship in favor of the Trump administration. She said, “Today’s decision follows a now-familiar pattern. The Government seeks emergency relief from this Court, asking it to grant a stay where two lower courts have not. The Government insists—even though review in a court of appeals is imminent—that it will suffer irreparable harm if this Court does not grant a stay. And the Court yields.”

Similar to the mainstream media, NowThis News did not provide any context about Sotomayor’s accusation directed at her colleagues on the bench. It was rare for a sitting Supreme Court justice to insert allegations of political partisanship in a dissenting opinion. Criticizing other justices is a common practice in dissenting opinions, but accusations of partisanship are not. NowThis News should have explained why Sotomayor’s dissent was unique to its readers to provide context and to avoid portraying the court’s conservative-leaning justices as pro-Trump partisans.

Sotomayor’s dissent was a response to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in the court case Wolf v. Cook County, Ill. The case was between Acting Secretary for Homeland Security Chad Wolf and Cook County, Illinois on the issue of the public charge immigration rule. The rule aimed to withhold green cards from immigrants who rely on government welfare programs. Chief Justice Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were in the majority in favor of Wolf, while Sotomayor joined justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan in the minority.

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