Bastiat Prize for Journalism Awarded to John Hasnas

basss.jpgLast month we posted some of the finalists for the Bastiat Prize for Journalism, awarded by London think tank The International Policy Network. This year was notable in that, for the first time, the award included a category for online journalists.

Earlier this week, the prize went to Georgetown professor John Hasnas for his Wall Street Journal op-ed “The ‘Unseen’ Deserve Empathy, Too.” The editorial questioned Barack Obama’s appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court based on her reputation as empathetic and understanding, which Hasnas argued was antithetical to the qualities that make a good judge.

Second place was awarded to Robert Guest, Washington correspondent for The Economist, and third went to Robert Robb of the Arizona Republic.

Full press release after the jump

NEW YORK CITY — John Hasnas has won the eighth annual Bastiat Prize for Journalism for “The ‘Unseen’ Deserve Empathy, Too”, published in the Wall Street Journal. Hasnas, a Professor at Georgetown University, utilized Bastiat’s analysis in “What is seen and what is not seen” to explain why judges should base their decisions on the rule of law, not on their “compassion” and “empathy” towards plaintiffs or defendants as President Obama had suggested in appointing Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

At IPN’s Eighth Annual Bastiat Dinner held in New York City on Monday 26 October, Hasnas was presented with US$10,000 — and a crystal candlestick — from America’s leading satirist, P.J. O’Rourke. After receiving the prize, Hasnas remarked:

“In 1850, Frederic Bastiat stated a simple, important economic truth. In my article, I repeated and applied that in a legal context. Receiving the Bastiat Prize makes me appreciate that an important function of journalism is to preserve truths of the past and remind us in the present when they are needed.”

Judges of the Bastiat Prize this year included Hon. Douglas Ginsburg, of the D.C. Court of Appeals, as well as former winners Amity Shlaes (now with Bloomberg), Brian Carney (Wall Street Journal), and Clive Crook (The Atlantic Monthly and The Financial Times).

The Bastiat Prize was founded in 2001 by International Policy Network (IPN). The Prize recognizes writers who wittily and eloquently explain, promote and defend the principles of the free society.

Commenting on the choice of this year’s winner, Julian Morris, Executive Director of IPN, said, “Like Bastiat, upon whose ideas he draws, Hasnas explains with extraordinary concision, wit and relevance the importance to the free society of law based on clear, abstract principles.”

Second place ($4,000) went to Robert Guest, Washington Correspondent of The Economist. Third place ($1,000) went to Robert Robb, editorial columnist for the Arizona Republic.