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Image: Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh stands before a ceremonial swearing-in in the East Room of the White House on Oct. 8, 2018.Susan Walsh / AP file

Justice Kavanaugh corrects an error, but leaves others intact

It seems to me Kavanaugh made a grudging correction, downplaying relevant details, but it's a correction nevertheless.


In an unfortunate setback for voting rights, conservative Supreme Court justices directed Wisconsin this week not to count ballots that arrive after the polls close, even if those ballots have a pre-election postmark. But adding insult to injury was Justice Brett Kavanaugh's concurrence, which included some factual errors.

As we discussed the other day, the Trump-appointed justice pointed to Vermont as an example of a state where officials "decided not to make changes to their ordinary election rules," despite the pandemic. That's not true: the Vermont Secretary of State's office noted soon after that it was authorized, for the first time, to automatically mail ballots to each of the state's registered voters, as well as implementing a first-time, pre-election ballot-processing policy.

In fact, the Vermont Secretary of State's office yesterday went so far as to formally request a correction from the U.S. Supreme Court. As CNN noted, the appeal appears to have worked.

Late Wednesday, without comment or explanation, Kavanaugh issued a revised opinion, changing the phrase "ordinary election rules" to "ordinary election-deadline rules." It now reads: "Other States such as Vermont, by contrast, have decided not to make changes to their ordinary election-deadline rules, including to the election-day deadline for receipt of absentee ballots."

It seems to me that's a grudging correction, downplaying the scope of the changes Vermont implemented to deal with a public-health crisis, but it's a correction nevertheless.

But at the risk of sounding picky, Kavanaugh's modification is arguably incomplete. Slate's Mark Joseph Stern did a nice job this week summarizing each of the mistakes the conservative justice made in his concurrence -- he counted five Kavanaugh errors, not one -- and TPM's Tierney Sneed flagged some additional problem areas in the justice's work.

Any chance Kavanaugh will revisit these other areas of concern? I have a hunch the answer is no.