Monday, July 2, 2012

A Working Theory of Judge Posner

A reader (!) emails with the following question:
What is going on with Judge Posner?  He seems to be emerging as a critic of the conservative wing of US Supreme Court.
Clearly I, as a renowned scholar of Judge Posner's jurisprudence, am the man to answer this question. Unsurprisingly, I have a theory.

Posner is not truly a conservative. He is a nerdy, heartless pragmatist who tries to reduce every problem to an equation. (I have some sympathy for this disposition.) In the past, this approach has happened to steer him toward conservative policies, but only because that's how the math worked out for him—not for any ideologically pure reason. Because the conservative members of the Court are ideologues, they do not compute. Posner can't figure out how their numbers add up. So he criticizes them. He doesn't really care to criticize the liberals, at least not as harshly, because he at least thinks he understands their math—Breyer (their leader) is obviously a pragmatist just like Posner.  The liberals have a variable in their equation for feelings, or heart, or something, that Posner thinks they overvalue. But at least they show their work. 

What do you think, Mr. Gillette? Got a better theory to explain Judge Posner's recent contrarian musings?

UPDATE: Mr. Gillette responds here.

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