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Logical Fallacies and this Year's Supreme Court Decisions- Part 2



OK Logic students!! Last week one of the Supreme Court's decision landed a little closer to home - the court decided a case that originated near Akron, Ohio!


The case concerns Larry Harmon, a software engineer and Navy veteran who lives near Akron, Ohio. He voted in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections but skipped the next one, saying he was unimpressed by the candidates. He also sat out the midterm elections in 2010 and 2014.
In 2015, Mr. Harmon did want to vote, against a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. But his name had been stricken from the voting rolls.
Federal laws prohibit states from removing people from voter rolls “by reason of the person’s failure to vote.” But they allow election officials who suspect that a voter has moved to send a confirmation notice.



Mr. Harmon sat out a couple of elections, and then he failed to return a card sent by the state to determine if he was still living at that address. When the state didn't get the card, they purged him from the list. But Mr. Harmon didn't figure that out until he went to vote the next time. He could have double checked with this site but he didn't. He was refused, he got mad, lawsuits were filed, and this got to the supreme court earlier this year. 

Judge Alito said the question was whether or not what the state had done was legal. It was. The State of Ohio prevailed. 

But here is where the logical fallacy comes in. The Washington Post opined:

In the United States, if you don’t buy a gun for several years, you do not lose your Second Amendment right to bear arms. If you never write a letter to the editor or participate in a street demonstration, you retain your full First Amendment rights to free speech. If you skip church for years on end, the government cannot stop you from finally attending a service.

"Use it or lose it" wasn't what the court was asked to decide. They were asked if it was legal for Ohio to purge a voter from the registration rolls if they failed to respond to a card from the state asking them to verify their address. That's it. The Washington Post doesn't mention that. 

Further, this is the weak analogy fallacy. Mr. Harmon didn't lose his right to vote. He can go down to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles any time, just like my daughter recently did, and re-register! If that's too burdensome, you can do it online or by mail. 

I can think of some other examples that further weaken the analogy. If a citizen does not keep up their certification, they can lose their right to conceal carry in the state of Ohio, although they can open carry. But you do have to keep that certification up if you want to conceal carry.

Lastly, free speech is blocked all the time!  Witness the poor bachelorette contestant who caused a "scandal" for simply liking conservative things on Instagram! He had to shut his account down and start over. You have the right to free speech in this country - but you have to be ready to take criticism for it especially on social media. 


See the other logical fallacy from this year's SCOTUS decisions here. 


Want to learn how to spot logical fallacies quickly? Read this!



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