There’s “absolutely no value…to a judge…studying the Constitution,” says Judge Richard A. Posner, a Federal judge for the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. This judge’s job is to uphold the very document he is calling worthless. This judge pledged an oath to “support and defend” the Constitution when he took office.
This judge has apparently changed his mind.
A Judge Who Digressed
Judge Richard A. Posner sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. He also carries senior lecturer status at the University of Chicago Law School, which means his views are being shared with the next generation of law practitioners. He has been on the Court of Appeals since 1981, when he was sworn to uphold the duties of his office. He has been called the modern “Albert Einstein” of American law.
And he recently said this in an opinion piece on Slate:
“I see absolutely no value to a judge of spending decades, years, months, weeks, day, hours, minutes, or seconds studying the Constitution, the history of its enactment, its amendments, and its implementation (across the centuries—well, just a little more than two centuries, and of course less for many of the amendments). Eighteenth-century guys, however smart, could not foresee the culture, technology, etc., of the 21st century. Which means that the original Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the post-Civil War amendments (including the 14th), do not speak to today. David Strauss is right: The Supreme Court treats the Constitution like it is authorizing the court to create a common law of constitutional law, based on current concerns, not what those 18th-century guys were worrying about.”
“In short, let’s not let the dead bury the living.”
Granted, he declared his beliefs decades after declaring the oath all judges must declare:
“I, Richard Posner, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
Maybe it had been so many years since he’d done it, he forgot what he was supposed to be doing.
In February of this year, about a week after Justice Anton Scalia was found dead at his ranch in Texas, rumors, guesses and predictions swirled about who would be chosen to fill the empty spot left on the Supreme Court. There were heated discussions, both in and out of the White House.
One of the possible picks for the empty seat was Richard Posner, CNN shared in an opinion post written by Michael Broyde, a law professor at Emory University. Broyde wrote that Posner was “a leading intellectual light of the past half-century in law.” Broyde also wrote that “the idea that one of the leading lights of law worldwide is a Supreme Court justice ought to make anyone who cares about the high court and the law proud to be an American.”
Maybe if Broyde had known Posner thought so little of the document that founded this nation and all it stands for, he would not have recommended him for a job to rule on the constitutionality of the laws of the Republic. It must be mentioned that a nomination for a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States would have been offered to him by the power of the very Constitution Richard Posner considers worthless.
Additionally, knowing “the Supreme Court is the final judge in all cases involving laws of Congress, and the highest law of all—the Constitution,” Posner probably would have turned down a nomination anyway.
Some are calling for Richard Posner to be impeached as many cannot believe he would speak so offensively about the United States Constitution, the document on which our nation was founded, and on which judges are supposed to base their legal decisions. Guess we will have to wait and see what is next for this judge who appears not to want to uphold his duties any longer in the manner he swore to uphold them.
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]