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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tip for tweeting about Hobby Lobby ruling: Supreme Court of the United States not the same as SCOTUSblog

On the Internet, as the cartoon famously said, nobody knows you’re a dog. Turns out that a lot of people also don’t know whether you’re a Supreme Court justice, either.

In the wake of Monday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court about contraceptive insurance coverage by the Hobby Lobby corporation, hundreds of people sent angry – or, less often, supportive – comments to a Twitter feed called @SCOTUSblog, knowing that SCOTUS is inside-the-Beltway slang for Supreme Court of the United States. ...

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On the Internet, as the cartoon famously said, nobody knows you’re a dog. Turns out that a lot of people also don’t know whether you’re a Supreme Court justice, either.

In the wake of Monday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court about contraceptive insurance coverage by the Hobby Lobby corporation, hundreds of people sent angry – or, less often, supportive – comments to a Twitter feed called @SCOTUSblog, knowing that SCOTUS is inside-the-Beltway slang for Supreme Court of the United States.

A typical example: “@SCOTUSblog It’s a shame your mothers didn’t use birth control to prevent you and your idiocy.”

What these commenters didn’t know is that
SCOTUSblog is actually the Twitter feed of an online news organization that covers the Supreme Court, not of the technology-averse court itself.

The blog’s editors had fun with the mistaken identity, answering dozens of rhetorical comments with their tongues firmly in cheek – as when they responded to the comment “Of all the bad decisions @SCOTUSblog made the last few years, #HobbyLobby is the worst” by tweeting, “Or eating the cheap Kung Pao Chicken.”

New Hampshire politicos got in on the action as well.

“You know, this is why the Senate should oppose any more Obama nominees to @SCOTUSblog,” wrote Grant Bosse, policy director for the Republican Caucus of the New Hampshire state Senate.

This was a joke, he said in a phone interview Tuesday, when questioned by a Telegraph reporter who couldn’t quite figure out whether Bosse had fallen prey to the SCOTUSblog error.

“I’ve been a fan of
SCOTUSblog for years,” he said, although he agreed that his tweet might have been too subtle for the tonal limitations of 140 characters.

His later posts Monday were more obviously jokes:

“From what I’ve read on Twitter, today is even worse than FDR’s infamous plan to pack @SCOTUSblog with left-wing bloggers,” he tweeted after the error had been trumpeted, in reference to President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1937 attempt to expand the Supreme Court when it was blocking some New Deal programs.

Later, he added, “Pretty sure Article III, Section LOL gave @SCOTUSblog right of judicial review.”

LOL means Laughing Out Loud, a reference that would be understood by anybody on Twitter – which, plenty of folks have now learned, does not include the U.S. Supreme Court.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).