The legendary Judge Richard Posner, whom I'm not really a fan of, has just released a book on the state of the law in the United States.
For those not familiar with Posner, he is a well regarded Federal judge who writes a great deal. Once mentioned as a possible candidate for the Supreme Court every time a Democratic President was in office, that no longer seems to be the case, but his output has not diminished. Nor has it become less accute in tone.
Now, I'm not really a fan of Posner, quite frankly. He's heavily associated with the economic school of thought in law, and I'm not a fan of that type of reasoning. He's generally left of center, and at least his recent critique of the Scalia was regarded as sufficiently unfair that one of his admirers on the Federal bench took after him on his own blawg.
But at least in his current book, if the Wall Street Journal comments on it are any guide, he may be spot on. Indeed his comments sound a lot like, well, mine.
Consider his comment that relates to the aging on the bench, a topic that's been discussed here more than once.
Not being subject to compulsory retirement and able to delegate much of their work to staff, federal judges sometimes fail to retire even when old age and its related ills have greatly impaired their judicial performance. To be blunt, there is a problem of judicial senility and it is growing with the general increase in the longevity of the American population.
Hmmm. . . Posner sounds like, well. . . . me when I worried about the Wyoming Legislature taking out the state mandatory retirement age for judges.
Or his comment on lack of diversity at the Supreme Court:
I believe that the average quality of justices back then was slightly higher than that of the current justices, that the current justices are overstaffed, talk too much at oral argument, and devote excessive time to extrajudicial activities, but that what made the earlier Court better despite its meager resources by current standards was mainly the diversity in the Justices’ professional backgrounds. Today. judged by educational and professional backgrounds, and despite pronounced ideological differences, the Justices are peas in a pod.
Interesting comment, and I can't disagree.
Here's one where I suspect that Posner must be following me around and reading my blog:
The increase in the number of law schools has caused a reduction in the average quality of law school graduates and a concomitant reduction in the average quality of lawyers who practice in the federal courts. And the increased size of laws school faculties has resulted in an increased number of the faculty members whom I’ve term “refugees” from more competitive or less lucrative fields and who have little interest in the actual judicial process and little ability to contribute to that process.
Law professors as "refugees", well in my entire quarter century of work as a lawyer I've heard one, and only one, lawyer use that term this way, that being. . . me. Judge Posner, is that you there in the shawdow? Hey, wait. . . . Well, good observation.
I may have to buy his book.