The Pragmatic Polemic: Judge Richard Posner -- By: Kawika Vellalos
The Pragmatic Polemic: Judge Richard Posner
J. D. student, Regent University
Richard A. Posner was born in 1939 and raised in New York City. He attended Yale for his undergraduate degree in English, graduating summa cum laude in 1959. Posner graduated first in his class from Harvard Law School in 1962, magna cum laude, and was President of the Harvard Law Review.1 After graduating from law school Posner clerked for Supreme Court Justice Brennan. Maintaining his affiliation with the elite universities, Posner accepted a position as associate professor at Stanford Law School in 1968. He moved to the University of Chicago’s School of Law in 1969 where he taught until he was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 1981. Posner was the Chief Judge from 1993 to 2000. As a judge, Posner has authored over 2317 legal opinions, well above the average for an appellate judge.2 He has published over thirty books and hundreds of scholarly articles.3 Posner continues to lecture at the University of Chicago Law School, and he also writes a weekly blog on political and economic issues.4
Judge Posner is widely respected in the legal community. Stephen Barnett of the Berkeley Law School and John Langbein of the Yale Law School, “begin their descriptions of Posner with, ‘he’s a genius, you know.’”5 Supreme Court Justice Scalia “thinks Posner is a genius and adds that he cannot do what Posner does.”6 The book Great American Judges: An Encyclopedia,7 which is a list of one hundred of America’s greatest judges, has a chapter devoted to Posner. Ronald Kahn notes that Posner is the “most notable proponent of the law and economics approach to legal theory and practice,” 8which makes Posner the “primary opponent of normative, philosophical approaches to the law.”9 Indeed, Geoffrey Stone, Dean of the University of Chicago Law School[,] says that Posner “‘is the most important and original legal thinker since Oliver Wendell Holmes.’” 10John Mikhail of Georgetown Law School asserts that “few individuals have played as pivotal a role in the development of American law during the past three decades”11 as Po...
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