July 12, 2007

Franck on 'Scalia-Thomas Derangement Syndrome'

Yesterday, Matthew J. Franck had a striking piece at NRO concerning the alarming tendency of liberal commentators to resort to "sneers, ad hominem attacks, begged questions, and appeals to the passions of readers already inclined to view matters" in the same light as they do. This is not only bad journalism; it is misology ("the hatred of reason itself"), and Franck is not afraid to label it as such.

He cites two recent examples from the New York Times and one from the Washington Post, and points to the common thread uniting them: a casual dispensing with proper argumentation (premises, conclusion).

Franck's first example is Neil A. Lewis's 'news' article from the Monday's Times. Leaving aside any serious investigation of Thomas's own arguments in the Seattle/Lousville cases, Lewis turns instead to pondering "[how] much [Thomas's] legal views are shaped by the difficulties of his own experience with race and education". The article is packed with speculation about Thomas's own "unhappy journey through integrated school situations". There is no real critical inquiry here regarding the substance and structure of Thomas's opinion.

This is a real concern, as Franck rightly points out. A lack of logic and reasoning in journalistic analysis of the Supreme Court reflects an unfortunate 'Scalia-Thomas Derangement Syndrome' that simply rejects any serious study of these influential Justices for their argumentation and their judicial philosophy.