In case you missed it, you should check out Judge Richard Posner’s recent review of the new book by Justice Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner, Reading Law (affiliate link). The review is deeply thoughtful and elegantly written, but a bit… harsh. It’s a definite reverse benchslap.
And it’s just the latest blow in an ongoing slugfest between Judge Posner and Justice Scalia, which we’ve chronicled in our pages. In June, Judge Posner criticized Justice Scalia’s dissent in Arizona v. United States. In July, Scalia saucily responded by saying of Posner, “He’s a court of appeals judge, isn’t he? He doesn’t sit in judgment of my opinions as far as I’m concerned.”
Ouch. These exchanges got me (and others) wondering: What’s going on between these two eminent jurists?
I reached out to both Justice Scalia and Judge Posner with this question: Is it personal?
Ed. note: This new column is about sports and the law. You can read the introductory installment here.
It wasn’t until law school that I realized adult life was one long series of birthday dinners. There was one every week it seemed. And at one birthday dinner in particular, I gave a speech that would haunt me for the rest of my law school career. Like an STD.
It was somebody’s birthday and we were eating Mexican food. And I was stationed at one end of the extra-long tables near a few friends and acquaintances. Several beers into the meal, I loudly steered the conversation towards a discussion of herpes. I’m not really sure why I did this. I think I had read something on the intertubes that day. At any rate, I told my end of the table that herpes was way more commonplace than they thought, and that the effect of the disease was far less dire than they thought. That, sure, some cases were worse than others, but that the puritanical myth-makers in our culture had convinced us that it was worse than death. Which it wasn’t. I was in high dudgeon, my friends. The floor was mine, and I was taking no prisoners in my attack on what I had deemed a cultural sex libel. “I’m telling you, ladies and germs. Herpes is NOT THAT BIG A DEAL!”
Not a single girl present at that dinner ever came close to having sex with me. On a related note, Kris Humphries was sued for allegedly giving a girl the herp.
Over the years, Judge Richard Posner (7th Cir.) has sent a number of his clerks to the chambers of Justice Antonin Scalia. Query whether Judge Posner’s record as a feeder judge to Justice Scalia will be impaired by the recent sniping between them (or by Judge Posner’s ideological drift; as he recently told NPR, he has grown less conservative “since the Republican Party started becoming goofy”).
Last month, Judge Posner expressed misgivings over Justice Scalia’s impassioned dissent in Arizona v. United States, a high-profile case about immigration. Judge Posner questioned the “famously outspoken” justice’s decision to include complaints about illegal immigrants in his dissent, suggesting that such discussion might be more appropriate for a campaign ad than a judicial opinion.
In a recent interview, Justice Scalia benchslapped back — hard. What did he have to say?
* Only 44% of Americans approve of how the Supreme Court is doing its job, but that’s probably because the other 56% wouldn’t know what the Supreme Court was unless the justices were contestants on a reality show. [New York Times]
* Having nothing to do with the outcome of this Tenth Circuit appeal, apparently a juror in the underlying case had no idea when the First Amendment was adopted. As Bush II would say, is our children learning? [U.S. Tenth Circuit / FindLaw]
* Who’s going to win the “Super Bowl” of Android patent trials? Nobody. Judge Richard Posner has issued a “tentative” order which noted that both sides of the Apple/Google case ought to be dismissed. [Reuters]
* U. Chicago Law revolutionized the field of law and economics, but much to the school’s chagrin, everyone copied them. Now they’re thinking up new ways to do the same things. Gunners gotta gun. [Businessweek]
* Say hello to Mary Lu Bilek, the woman who’s been appointed as the new dean of UMass Law. Hopefully she’s not keen on using school credit cards for personal spending like the last dean. [Wall Street Journal]
* Occupy Wall Street protesters can’t sue NYC, its mayor, or its police commissioner, but they can sue the police. And with that news, “F**k tha Police” was sung in drum circles across the tri-state area. [Bloomberg]
I feel queasy just looking at this photo of Nutriloaf.
Deliberate withholding of nutritious food or substitution of tainted or otherwise sickening food, with the effect of causing substantial weight loss, vomiting, stomach pains, and maybe an anal fissure (which is no fun at all, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anal_fissure (visited March 15, 2012)), or other severe hardship, would violate the Eighth Amendment.
– Judge Richard Posner, in Tuesday’s ruling in Prude v. Clarke. The Seventh Circuit reinstated a lawsuit filed by a prisoner who alleged that being fed nutriloaf (a.k.a. Nutraloaf) in the Milwaukee County Jail amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.
(Judge Posner had more strong words to say about nutriloaf, as well an in-depth analysis to answer this crucial question: what the heck is nutriloaf?)
With Murdoch gone, British media can return to doing what it does best.
* A federal judge tossed out a law requiring tobacco companies to put graphic warning labels on cigarette packages. If paying $7 a pack doesn’t stop you from buying smokes, I don’t think nasty photos will either. [CNN]
* SCOTUS won’t deal with Arizona’s controversial immigration law for a couple months, but the Eleventh Circuit will hear oral arguments about Alabama’s even stricter law today. But why would you immigrate to Alabama, of all places? Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* The Seventh Circuit ruled that police can search a cellphone for its number without a warrant. Judge Richard Posner compared it to law enforcement’s ability to open a pocket diary and copy the owner’s address. The bigger question is: do drug dealers keep diaries? [Wall Street Journal]
* James Murdoch, the News Corp. heir apparent, has resigned in the wake of the News of the World scandal and related lawsuits. Now everyone can just go back to reading British tabloids for the Page Three Girls. [Los Angeles Times]
* RIP Lynn D. “Buck” Compton, the prosecutor who secured a conviction of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin, and the Army paratrooper portrayed in the book and HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers.” [Washington Post]
Of course not! But the headline got your attention, didn’t it? The notion of Judge Richard Posner as being anything other than a genius will certainly make people sit up and take notice. There’s a reason why there’s a Facebook group called Richard Posner for Philosopher King (of which I am a proud member).
It should be noted, however, that Judge Posner’s opinion in Gonzalez-Servin v. Ford Motor Co. was not 100 percent perfect. It initially contained some infelicitous wording — which has since been fixed.
Let’s look at the language that was perhaps imprecise….
UPDATE (4 PM): Additional comment from Judge Posner, added after the jump.
On Thanksgiving Day, while you were enjoying your turkey (or tofurkey), we wrote about a different bird: namely, the ostrich. In a somewhat snarky opinion, Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit compared a lawyer appearing before him to an ostrich: “The ostrich is a noble animal, but not a proper model for an appellate advocate. The ‘ostrich-like tactic of pretending that potentially dispositive authority against a litigant’s contention does not exist is as unprofessional as it is pointless.’”
Ouch. Judge Posner even included a photo (above right) of a man in a suit burying his head in the sand.
What did the lawyer in question, David “Mac” McKeand of Houston, have to say for himself? And what did McKeand have to say about Judge Posner?
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