ABA Journal

An interview with Judge Richard A. Posner


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Photo of Judge Richard A. Posner by Reuters/John Gress

Editor’s Note: Richard Posner is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, a senior lecturer in law at the University of Chicago and, some would reckon, a force of nature.

He’s a prolific author whose seemingly endless curriculum vitae includes books on topics as varied as the economic basis of justice, intelligence reform, Bush v. Gore, the failures of capitalism, the Clinton impeachment, law in literature, antitrust theory, disaster response and the origins of nude dancing. In a position that most often clings to anonymity as a jurisprudential value, Posner is a restless and engaged public intellectual. He is a frequent contributor to The New Republic and an occasional blogger and op-ed author. Besides his college (Yale ‘59) and law school (Harvard ‘62) degrees, he has received 11 honorary degrees.

More than this, however, he’s a candid—and for some, irritating—voice that strives for realism in his assessments of judges and justice. His criticisms of the U.S. Supreme Court are well-known and his prose occasionally acid. And when lawyer and author Joel Cohen asked if we would be interested in publishing an interview he had scheduled with Posner, we immediately agreed.

Posner had written a foreword to Cohen’s forthcoming book, Blindfolds Off: Judges on How They Decide, which will be released this month by ABA Publishing. The book includes interviews with 13 veteran jurists about the duties and realities of being a judge. Although it would not appear in his book, Cohen thought his project would be incomplete if he did not interview Posner on the same subject.

The result, as you will read in the following pages, is a far-ranging discussion (edited for length and concision) about judges, judging and the relentless curiosity that makes Richard Posner one of the most recognizable and formidable intellects in today’s vast and raucous public square.

Allen Pusey

Click here to read Joel Cohen’s interview with Posner.

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