Dear Chief Justice John Roberts:
I write today on behalf of the American Sociological Association, the nation’s largest scholarly professional association of sociologists, to respond to a comment you made during oral arguments on Tuesday, October 3rd for the case of Gill v. Whitford. You said: “It may be simply my educational background, but I can only describe it [social science data] as sociological gobbledygook.”
We were pleased to learn that Justices Kagan and Sotomayor subsequently expressed concern about your statement and spoke to the value of social science measures. In this letter, we provide additional context for understanding the empirical nature of social scientific data and the ways it has served the national interests.
In an era when facts are often dismissed as “fake news,” we are particularly concerned about a person of your stature suggesting to the public that scientific measurement is not valid or reliable and that expertise should not be trusted. What you call “gobbledygook” is rigorous and empirical. The following are just a few examples of the contributions of sociological research to American society that our members offered in response to your comment…