Maria Mihalik is newsletter and supplements editor of Associations Now in Washington, DC.
The American Bar Association creates an online site where anyone can verify statutory law and legal rulings.
What's the great idea? A fact-checking website for statutory law and legal rulings
Who's doing it? American Bar Association
What's involved? Visitors to ABA Legal Fact Check can get nonpartisan explanations of the background and rulings on legal cases surrounding hotbed topics that are susceptible to everything from misinterpretation to political spin and personal opinions in the media or at the dinner table. The articles, studded with links to more comprehensive texts, are thorough enough to assist lawyers yet accessible to laypeople as well. Recent posts examine such questions as “Can a person’s citizenship or visa be revoked?” and “Can government leaders or employers force individuals to participate in national rituals such as standing for the national anthem?”
ABA staff post articles in response to current events, and readers are invited to submit questions as well.
“With so much misinformation on the internet and in the public discourse, finding the truth can be a difficult task, and that includes for legal matters,” says ABA President Hilarie Bass, who conceived of the initiative when she took the helm of the association last August. “ABA Legal Fact Check is the first fact-check service to exclusively separate legal fact from fiction.”
What are people saying? In its first four months, the site garnered more than 25,000 page views. One attorney told ABA that he regularly steers friends and family members to the site when they approach him with opinions on legal issues they have heard in the news or seen on social media that are clearly off-base or even “fake news.”
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Nothing But the Truth."]