« Two interesting and critical takes on AG Jeff Sessions' repeated statements about rising crime | Main | Ohio Gov delays multiple executions while denying clemency for double murderer slated to die later this month »

September 2, 2017

Anyone want to talk about Judge Richard Posner's sentencing legacy on his retirement day?

As reported here by the Chicago Tribune, one of the most prominent and best-known federal circuit judges suddenly decided to retire from the Seventh Circuit: "Judge Richard A. Posner, one of the nation's leading appellate judges, whose acerbic wit attracted an almost cultlike following within legal circles, is retiring after more than three decades with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago." Here is more: 

Posner, 78, is stepping down effective Saturday, according to a news release Friday afternoon from the 7th Circuit. He was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and served as its chief judge from 1993 to 2000.

Posner said in a statement he has written more than 3,300 opinions in his time on the bench and is "proud to have promoted a pragmatic approach to judging." He said he spent his career applying his view that "judicial opinions should be easy to understand and that judges should focus on the right and wrong in every case."

Posner's biting and often brilliant written opinions as well as his unrelenting questioning from the bench have made him an icon of the court for years. Known as a conservative at the time of his appointment, Posner's views skewed more libertarian through the years, and he often came down in favor of more liberal issues such as gay marriage and abortion rights.

I consider sentencing another arena in which (now former) Judge Posner came to be more liberal over time.  And, in the sentencing universe, I will always think first of Judge Posner sparring with Judge Easterbrook over the impact of the Supreme Court's Blakely decision for the federal sentencing system in US v. Booker when that case was before the Seventh Circuit (that opinion is available at this link).

I suspect some other sentencing fans might have other thoughts about (now former) Judge Posner, especially practitioners within the Seventh Circuit. I would love to hear those thoughts in the comments.

September 2, 2017 at 05:11 PM | Permalink


I entered Federal prison in July 2000, and began using my U.Va. law degree and experience writing briefs involving Blakely and Booker. I have long followed Judge Posner's opinions and have enjoyed his deep thought and judicial philosophy. I wonder why he took full retirement instead of becoming a Senior Circuit Judge? Somehow, I doubt that we have head the last of him. At the least, I see him serving as an adjunct professor at the Univ. of Chicago Law School. Who knows, maybe Special Counsel Muller will call upon him for help too.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Sep 2, 2017 5:36:04 PM

He mentioned the Rent Seeking Theory toward the end of his book on Law and Economics. I was impressed.

He did support judicial review to have judges update the meaning of 50 year old laws, rather than waiting for their revision by an accountable legislature.

Smart but really stupid, like all Harvard Law grads, when it comes to enlarging the tyranny of government. When we say, government does nothing well, there is a simple explanation. It is run by Ivy indoctrinated morons, like Judge Posner.

Posted by: David Behar | Sep 2, 2017 7:27:58 PM

Judge: I hope you read this blog and today's comments. Retirement will be good for you. Off the bench you can write another book for the rest of us. Move to the beach or to a waterside place like New Bern, NC. Enjoy life to the fullest.

Meanwhile, I am going to go read one of your books which is on my shelf here in my retirement boat.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Sep 2, 2017 10:19:04 PM

Watching Justice Kagan's interview at the left leaning Aspen Institute. She was counsel for Obama, Dean of Harvard Law, and a Justice of the Supreme Court.

What trivial, ignorant, and stupid person she is. Posner should have been on the Supreme Court.

Posted by: David Behar | Sep 3, 2017 1:43:42 AM

One of my favorite quotes from Judge Posner: “[We should have a realistic conception of the composition of the prison and jail population before deciding that they are scum entitled to nothing better than what a vengeful populace and resource-starved penal system choose to give them. We must not exaggerate the distance between ‘us,’ the lawful ones, the respectable ones, and the prison and jail population; for such exaggeration will make it too easy for us to deny that population the rudiments of humane consideration.” Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144, 152 (7th Cir. 1995) (Posner, C.J., dissenting)

Posted by: Dave Sidhu | Sep 3, 2017 11:43:04 AM

I have never understood the public fawning that is given to Posner. Nothing I have ever read by him has ever stuck me as particularly insightful or brilliant. I recently came across a cartoon that I thought was amusing. It was titled "Nightmare Quiz for Computer Programmers" and the quiz had one question--name a poem. That is my take on Posner. He is brilliant and deep and insightful for the narrow-minded crowd that can't name a poem.

This isn't to say that I always disagreed with him or thought his opinions were poorly reasoned. It is just that I never understood why anyone ever thought him worthy of /special/ note. He was a judge. He wrote opinions. He served for a long time. Thanks for your service...

Posted by: Daniel | Sep 3, 2017 12:21:52 PM

Mr. Behar, of Elana Kagan you write, "What trivial, ignorant, and stupid person she is"
Well, let's see. Kagan attended Princeton University, where she earned an A.B., summa cum laude in history in 1981. Did you attend Princeton or the equivalent? Did you earn you degree summa cum laude? As an undergraduate, Kagan also served as editorial chair of The Daily Princetonian. Have you ever served as the editorial chair of a college newspaper?

In 1980, Kagan received Princeton's Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship, one of the highest general awards conferred by the university, which enabled her to study at Worcester College, Oxford. What awards have you received? Have you studied at Oxford? At Oxford, Kagan earned a Master of Philosophy in Politics 1983. Do you have a master’s degree from Oxford?

In 1986 Kagan received her law degree from Harvard. Did you go to Harvard?
She received her degree magna cum laude in 1986. Did you receive your degree with honors? At Harvard she was the supervisory editor of the Harvard Law Review. Were you the supervisory editor of any law review?

Kagan was a law clerk for Judge Abner J. Mikva of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1987 and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1988. Whose law clerk were you?

Kagan entered private practice as an associate at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Williams & Connolly. What law firm did you work for?

Kagan joined the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School as an assistant professor in 1991 and became a tenured professor of law in 1995. Where were you a professor?

While at the University of Chicago, Kagan published a law review article on the regulation of First Amendment hate speech in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling in R.A.V. v. City of St. P What arteicles have you written?

Elana Kagan may be many things, but "trivial, ignorant, and stupid" she is not. How about you?

Posted by: anon12 | Sep 3, 2017 7:22:05 PM

Hi, Anon12. Try to understand this. My high school education is preserved. Hers was eradicated by the criminal cult enterprise indoctrination of law school, making her one of the stupidest people in this country.

Watch the C-SPAN interview at the Aspen Institute. See if you can sit through it without wanting to bash your head on the wall from the trivial and stupid talk of this moron. Listening to her a short time made want to cleanse my mind with a legal analysis by Joe. It was that bad. He is actually less of a weasel than she is.


All those achievements, indicated book learning intelligence, a worthless and actually toxic form. It also took place before attending law school. Harvard destroyed all her native book learning intelligence. It made her among the stupidest people in this country. Don't worry about my intelligence. Worry about the intelligence of Life Skills students learning to eat food with a spoon. Their intellect would be superior to hers.

She believes in supernatural doctrines, mind reading, future forecasting, and that standards of conduct should be set by a fictitious character. She is nuts. Why fictitious? So the standards may objective, of course. Not even a person with intellectual disability would believe that Mickey Mouse, an extra careful, prudent and always anxious, fictitious character, should set the standards of the conduct of a nation.

She is a Jew. She, along with the Muslim, Protestant, and Bhuddist Harvard law students, was so stupid, she stupidly accepted idiotic, delusional, psychotic, legal doctrines plagiarized from the Catechism, not inspired, not suggested, just copied, straight. The Church is honest. They claim these are according to their faith, and I have no criticism of the church. They knew those beliefs required faith in 1300 AD.

Problem, Anon12. This is a secular nation, where religious doctrine cannot be Established by the government.

Then, again, this Jew, this moron, accepts an invitation from an institute that compares Israel to Nazi Germany, and supports BDS. This moron, this idiot, attends an event at the Aspen Institute, a front organization funded by George Soros, a notorious, Nazi Jew hunter, for money, of course. In your teens, you may have delivered newspapers. He delivered hiding Jews to the Nazis, for money.

Kagan, one of the highest government officials attends a major event at this anti-Semitic, hate group.

Posted by: David Behar | Sep 3, 2017 8:16:01 PM

Posner criticized the legal profession, but for missing a deadline, not for the inanity and stupidity of its of substantive content. He was oblivious to the self evident. He also criticized pro se litigants. Hey, Posner, show more respect for the owner of the law, and the person who pays your salary. You are the servant, not the litigant. Bow your head, and do not stare when addressing your employer. And judges be forced to rise when a litigant a court. Taser and beat whim with batons, if he does not do that quickly enough.

Back to the lawyer who missed a deadline, this moron did understand it was unfair to punish the client for the mistake or laziness of his lawyer. He just could not make the leap to the next step, that the remedy is not to dismiss the matter. It is to impose fines on the lawyer and on its supervisors. That money should come from personal funds and not from law firm accounts, again punishing the client. Is there anything stupider than a Harvard Law grad? Even a Life Skills student, learning to eat with a spoon, would know better than the stupidest people in our country.

He is also Jewish, yet got high grades on exams of the plagiarized content of the Catechism in law school. I cannot stand this stupidity. He never criticized this violation of the constitution, even after leaving law school, and in less danger of getting a B.

Here is one nice thing about the Posner retirement, outside of getting rid of a Harvard moron.

Trump will name his replacement, and it will be confirmed as soon as possible by the Republican controlled Senate.

Posted by: David Behar | Sep 4, 2017 2:56:55 PM

Anon, there is nothing to be gained by engaging Supremacy Claus in discussion. He should be ignored.

Doug, "She is a Jew." Please get rid of S.C.


Posted by: bruce cunningham | Sep 4, 2017 4:26:05 PM

Last time I checked, Behar is a Jewish name.

Posted by: Fat Bastard | Sep 4, 2017 10:27:48 PM

Bruce. Explain how the sentence, "She is a Jew." is a problem.

I think, the problem is with Jewish law students accepting lawless, Catechism based, legal doctrines to get high grades. They should be rejected these are unlawful in our secular nation, atavistic, being from 13th Century jurisprudence, and psychotic in their supernatural nature.

The Deans of the law schools are on the Arrest List. They indoctrinate students into the criminal cult enterprise.

Then, the Jew, Kagan, betrays her religion, and the memory of what happened to it, by attending an event in an institute that is rabidly anti-Semitic, funded by a Nazi Jew hunter, and seeking the destruction of Israel.

Shunning is cult technique. Your legal education will never stand up to my preserved high school education. Your lawyer, supernatural beliefs are cuckoo.

Posted by: David Behar | Sep 4, 2017 11:17:37 PM

Fat. Last time I checked, so is, Fat.

Posted by: David Behar | Sep 4, 2017 11:18:07 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB