For instance, Cohen paints a false picture of Justice Scalia’s reasoning:
Justice Scalia even asked, “Do you ever seriously expect Congress to vote against a re-extension of the Voting Rights Act?” Apparently, the fact that there is such overwhelming support for the act is an argument for why the Supreme Court should strike it down.
Now, anyone with a legal education should know that this is not Justice Scalia’s reasoning. Even if Justice Scalia was of the opinion that Congress did not have the power to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, the popularity of the Act would not be a factor in his analysis. As a journalist with a Harvard Law degree, he obviously understands this (and, yes, Cohen is yet another Harvard Law alum not practicing law). Cohen uses the quotations only as a rhetorical device to bolster his (rather weak) argument.
Cohen’s article exemplifies the reason why oral arguments should not be broadcasted. Quoting out of context, like Cohen has done, causes the public to misconstrue the Court’s reasoning. Readers of Cohen’s article assume that Justice Scalia believes the Act should be struck down because there is “such overwhelming support.” This may inevitably lead to a loss of confidence in the Court.
If a respectable news source like the New York Times, and a journalist with a Harvard Law degree, can use these quotes out of context, just imagine what other, perhaps less respectable, sources may do (ahem, Fox News).