by Theresa Carli Pontieri, Esq.
“We’re in an environment in which truth and consequences are fungible.” Dr. Robert Malone made this very bold statement during a December 30, 2021 episode of the Joe Rogan Podcast, which has now been listened to over 50 million times. During a time when every statement from the media or from politicians feels hyperbolic, the recent Supreme Court oral arguments on OSHA’s vaccine mandates illustrates just how true this statement is. Albeit likely unintentional, Justices Sonia Sotomayer and Elena Kagan both made egregiously inaccurate statements from the Supreme Court Bench as the premise to their questions posed to the oralists. Presumably, they are making decisions, which have grave consequences on personal liberties, based on misinformation. This is not only dangerous, it opens a floodgate of possibilities for future jurists to rely on inaccurate information when making decisions that impact millions of lives. Jurists have an obligation to rely on accurate information and to not further disseminate misinformation when hearings are either viewable or audible by the Public. So, when did our Supreme Court Justices become politicians first and jurists second?
The Supreme Court ruled last Thursday that while OSHA’s vaccine mandate for private employers with over 100 employees was unconstitutional and an overreach of Executive Power, the vaccine mandate for facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding could stand. So, while our nurses, doctors, and other facility workers sacrificed their own well-being on the front lines of this pandemic for two years, they are now being told to either undergo an irreversible medical treatment or lose their job. These workers have a right to know that nine Justices on the Supreme Court made this decision based on facts. What our Supreme Court Justices said during live oral arguments were not facts, and this Court’s decision is final. It’s binding. And in this instance, it could be based on falsities that were made with impunity.
Truly, the Supreme Court’s decision has little to do with COVID statistics, but rather, whether the Executive Branch has the authority to take the action that OSHA has taken in mandating vaccines for private companies. But separation of powers isn’t sexy, legislative intent doesn’t make headlines, and making constitutional arguments doesn’t rile up any political base. On the other hand, words like “unprecedented pandemic,” figures like “100,000 hospitalized children—many on ventilators,” and wishful thinking like, “vaccines stop transmission” look great when scrolling across the bottom of our major news networks or when tweeted and retweeted thousands of times within just minutes of the statements being made.
Not a single person from the CDC—including CDC Directly, Dr. Walensky, while under oath during Congressional Hearings, confirmed Justice Sotomayer’s comment regarding children on ventilators, and we’ve heard the CDC director now tell us that the COVID vaccines may stop hospitalization or severe illness, but they do not stop COVID transmission. These are the facts.
The speed at which misinformation is routinely spread around the world is its own pandemic. There’s no vaccine for it, and the prophylactics and therapeutics we could take for it are things like turning our devices off, choosing to read a research paper or book rather than “googling” everything, or using our common sense. The bad news is, Americans are terrible patients. We’d rather miss a meal than give up our phones and tablets; we’d rather believe a tweet from a 22-year-old celebrity than read a research paper by academics or scholars in their respective fields; and we’d rather be told what to think than open up our God-given eyes, ears, and minds to observe and think for ourselves. The good news is, I believe there is a vaccine. We have to start exposing the misinformation for what it is—false rhetoric spread with impunity and aimed to push a narrative that one finds to be in their own best interest. All politicians do it; all media outlets parrot it; people from all walks of life believe it; and rarely is anything consequential is done about it.
As Americans, we should, at the very least, be able to trust one of our most sacred institutions, the Supreme Court of these United States, to be accurate, careful, and deliberate in their thoughts and in their words. As an attorney, I have a duty of candor to the Court, so the Court should have a duty of candor to the Public. Regardless of one’s political beliefs, one’s opinions on vaccines and vaccine mandates, or one’s feelings about COVID in general, one thing all citizens should be in agreement on is our right to rely on all branches of our government to tell us the truth and to use the truth, rather than agendas, to drive its legislative policy-making and its judicial decisions in landmark court cases that will forever shape the laws of this Country and the lives of the people that inhabit it.
The fact of the matter is, truth and consequences are only fungible by those at the top, those driving the narratives, those controlling the news feed, and those making decisions that affect the citizenry. We the people feel the consequences of their lies for them. What will happen to our necessary medical and assisted living facilities? Will we continue to be plagued with staff shortages due to workers being out from having contracted COVID and now quitting or being fired because they don’t want to take a vaccine? When essential workers in a community begin to be eliminated, the citizens feel it. There is nothing truer or more consequential than that.