Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Small but important

More sloppy reporting that leads to precisely the wrong impression of what the Supreme Court is supposed to be doing, this time from the BBC.
The judges are deciding whether to let a small congregation in New Mexico worship with hallucinogenic tea.
No, they are not deciding that at all. They are deciding whether the federal government’s attempts to prevent the use of the tea under the Controlled Substances Act are compatible with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment.

I realize this sounds picayune and pedantic. But I think it is important that the media not plant the false notion that the court is, or is supposed to be, judging the value of the law. The way that the BBC has framed the issue, one would think that the Court is sitting around debating the social pros and cons of worshippers getting high. They are not, or at least they should not be. They should simply be judging whether or not the law is compatible with the constitution.


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