Ezra Klein goes after Justice Scalia with a fluffy argument from authority:
Scalia’s gay adoption claim: Even wronger than I thought
On Wednesday, I wrote about Justice Antonin Scalia’s comment that “there’s considerable disagreement among sociologists as to what the consequences of raising a child in a single-sex family, whether that is harmful to the child or not.”
It turns out Scalia’s comment was wronger than I thought — and wrong in a way that Scalia, in particular, should have known.
It relied, remember, on the idea that sociologists are, in some significant way, split on this question. That’s not what the American Sociological Association thinks. Here’s its official statement on the matter:
And he cites their comments in support of gay marriage, before delivering his knockout punchline:
Pretty definitive. And here’s the punchline: That paragraph isn’t buried in a press release on its blog or in an editorial from its trade magazine. It’s from the amicus curiae brief that the ASA filed in the very case Scalia was commenting on.
Oh, well, it was in an amicus brief! Well, maybe Scalia read this amicus brief:
AMICI CURIAE BRIEF OF SOCIAL SCIENCE PROFESSORS IN SUPPORT OF HOLLINGSWORTH AND BIPARTISAN LEGAL ADVISORY GROUP ADDRESSING THE MERITS AND SUPPORTING REVERSAL.
Hmm. These social scientists are on a different page from their colleagues. Here is a bit of the table of contents:
I. Compelling Evidence Shows that Children Benefit from the Unique Parenting Contributions of Both Men and Women. ............ 5
II. The Claim of “No Difference” In Outcomes of Children Raised By Gay and Lesbian Parents and Intact Biological Parents Is Empirically Undermined by Significant Methodological Limitations. ......... 13
It's almost as if, contra Klein, there is disagreement among social scientists, just as Scalia said.
Or maybe Scalia was thinking of this brief by Leon Kass warning against politicized science; from the table of contents:
ARGUMENT ............................... 5
I. THIS COURT HAS RECOGNIZED THAT UNRELIABLE EXPERT OPINIONS ARE A SERIOUS THREAT TO THE INTEGRITY OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM..... 5
II. SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE IS FREQUENTLY SHAPED AND DRIVEN BY POLITICS AND IDEOLOGY .................. 7
III. THE EFFECTS OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ON FAMILY LIFE ARE UNKNOWN, AND CURRENTLY UNKNOWABLE. ........................ 17
IV. INCONCLUSIVE STUDIES ARE OFTEN USED TO ARGUE THAT CONTROVERSIAL POLICIES ARE SCIENTIFICALLY SUPPORTED....... 25
V. THE COURT SHOULD RELY FOR ITS DECISION IN THIS CASE ON THE LAW, RATHER THAN ON SPECULATION AND IDEOLOGY MASQUERADING AS SCIENCE .......................... 30
The notion that social science is politicized should not come as a surprise to anyone, even Ezra. And the idea that Scalia should simply defer to the ASA and pretend these rival briefs do not exist is absurd.