Monday, April 15, 2013

The Plight of Pro Life Journalists and Law Professors the Same ? Gosnell Coverage

The Gosnell abortion doctor trial is thankfully getting the attention it deserves now. An important side issue is being discussed also. Is the fact that a good bit of the media in powerful positions actually playing a big part in some stories not getting covered and when they are the slant give.

Mollie Hemingway has a good post related to this today . See WPost demonstrates how not to respond to Gosnell critiques, again . After reading that must read stop by and read Ross Douthat's piece in the NYT that I also think is related Balance and Bias .

I was thinking today how the situation of Law Professors and Journalism that reach the height of their profession and thus have great influence are similar.

Not too long ago Professor Michael Moreland who is Vice Dean at the e Villanova Law school asked this simple question.  . That is why  Why Is There So (Relatively) Little Good Scholarly Work on Abortion?

Law Prof John Breen at the Loyola Law School school game back with a very alarming and depressing bas on personal experience. See A Partial Answer to Michael Moreland’s Question .

He said in part :

...I would say that the relative lack of quality in pro-life legal scholarship is due to the relatively small amount of pro-life legal scholarship overall, and that this in turn is due to the enormous disincentives faced by those potential pro-life scholars seeking to become law professors as well as those academics seeking tenure, promotion, and advancement.

When I was first thinking about a career as a law professor, I spoke with my teacher and mentor Mary Ann Glendon.  She gave me a lot of helpful advice, e.g. that I should be open to teaching in different parts of the country, that I should identify the specific courses I would like to teach and think about how I would teach them, etc.  She also said that no matter how enthusiastic I was about teaching, prospective schools would judge my candidacy on how productive they thought I would be as a scholar so that I should work hard to publish some law articles before entering the job market.  Here she warned me “Don’t write about abortion.  Your goal is to get hired and most faculties will not hire someone who is pro-life.  Write about something that interests you but is not especially controversial.  Indeed, I would advise you not to write about abortion until after you have tenure and are at a school where you could see yourself spending the rest of your career.”
Because I was acquainted with Mary Ann’s own writings on the subject, and since I had written my third-year paper on abortion at Harvard under her direction, I was somewhat puzzled by this advice.  But she assured me that the bias in the academy was enormous and a real impediment to entry into the profession.
I took her advice to heart and succeeded in obtaining a teaching position.  Moreover, as she suggested, I did not begin to write on the subject until after I received tenure at a school where I felt comfortable, knowing even then that it would likely foreclose some career opportunities that might otherwise be open in the future.  I have always been thankful for Mary Ann’s guidance, and I have passed on this same advice to young lawyers who have sought my counsel as they contemplate a career in law teaching. .....

That sad and practical advice is coming from Mary Ann Glendon one of the more respected legal voices in the United States.

So basically a good bit of  Law Profs life is hiding his views if he is pro life. So while he or she might have something important to say they spend their lives writing on water rights law or something until they are established.

Its hard not to see perhaps the same social, political, and cultural dynamics with people in the journalism club.

As we have seen with Law Profs this situation leaves a lot to be desired.


Mark Spears said...

The fact that John Breen and Mary Ann Glendon are cowards, who appear to lack the courage of their anti-choice convictions does not prove that there is some sort of conspiracy to keep anti-choice lawyers out of influential positions. They kept their anti-choice opinions to themselves as acts of their own free wills, due to their own cowardice, and then turn around and complain about it. There was a dissenting opinion written to Roe vs. Wade, and there has been a dissenting opinion written to every ruling upholding Roe vs. Wade. These people are living in some sort of fantasy world when they say there is a lack of scholarship or writing taking the anti-choice point of view. I suspect that they are just grasping at straws, trying to come up with excuses why neither the two of them, nor any other anti-choice lawyers, have made any headway in overturning Roe vs. Wade.

Mark Spears said...

It just occurred to me that the dissent to Roe vs. Wade was written by Justice Rehnquist, and then he went on to become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. This beautifully demonstrates how utterly ridiculous, how fallacious, how deceitful and dishonest and disingenuous is this whole thesis that anti-choice lawyers must keep those opinions secret to get anywhere in the profession. People like this John Breen and Mary Ann Glendon are just liars and cowards, and that is likely why they do not get on in their chosen professions, rather than some supposed prejudice against their political opinions.

James H said...

Perhaps you are right Mr Spears but some of these lawyers are pretty respected in their fields. And if they think that having a very pro life stance is not good for one's legal career perhaps should not be so easily dismissed.

I am not at the point where I am going to call the Learned Hand Prof of Law at Harvard a LIAR.

I think their claims deserve to investigation