Andrew Cohen’s Praise for Murphy Biography of Scalia

by Ed Whelan

In a review, legal analyst Andrew Cohen praises Bruce Allen Murphy’s forthcoming biography of Justice Scalia as a “fine new book” that is “very much worth buying and reading.”

Cohen notes my series of critical posts but doesn’t defend Murphy’s book against any of my criticisms. Instead, he says only that “a seven-part series … seems like an awful lot of energy to devote to a book Whelan declares you should neither buy nor read.” (Emphasis in original.)

What a silly point. Rather than simply make an unsupported declaration, I extensively exposed Murphy’s stunning incompetence and incoherence so that no fair-minded, intelligent person could mistake Murphy’s biography for a “fine new book.” Unless Cohen can contest my criticisms, I don’t see how he can find Murphy worthy of trust—how  he might imagine, for example, that Murphy is competent to assess the memos that Scalia wrote as head of the Office of Legal Counsel. But Cohen doesn’t refrain from quoting and embracing Murphy’s tendentious characterizations.

Cohen instead keeps his readers utterly in the dark about the substance of my criticisms. Indeed, he links only to my introductory post. (Here’s the current set, including the latest from yesterday: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.)

Update: On the Corner, Ramesh Ponnuru weighs in on Cohen’s “bad faith” argument against Scalia’s “absolute certainty.” (The latter characterization is Murphy’s and is adopted by Cohen.)​

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