Richard Posner

The Federal Judiciary: Strengths and Weaknesses. By Richard A. Posner

The Federal Judiciary: Strengths and Weaknesses. By Richard A. Posner.
Harvard University Press 2017.
ISBN: 0674975774, 9780674975774.

No sitting federal judge has ever written so trenchant a critique of the federal judiciary as Richard A. Posner does in this, his most confrontational book. Skewering the politicization of the Supreme Court, the mismanagement of judicial staff, the overly complex system of appeals, the threat of originalism, outdated procedures, and the backward-looking traditions of law schools and the American judicial system, Posner has written a cri de coeur and a battle cry. With the prospect that the Supreme Court will soon be remade in substantial, potentially revanchist, ways, The Federal Judiciary exposes the American legal system’s most troubling failures in order to instigate much-needed reforms.

Posner presents excerpts from legal texts and arguments to expose their flaws, incorporating his own explanation and judgment to educate readers in the mechanics of judicial thinking. This rigorous intellectual work separates sound logic from artful rhetoric designed to subvert precedent and open the door to oblique interpretations of American constitutional law. In a rebuke of Justice Antonin Scalia’s legacy, Posner shows how originalists have used these rhetorical strategies to advance a self-serving political agenda. Judicial culture adheres to an antiquated traditionalism, Posner argues, that inhibits progressive responses to threats from new technologies and other unforeseen challenges to society.

With practical prescriptions for overhauling judicial practices and precedents, The Federal Judiciary offers an unequaled resource for understanding the institution designed by the founders to check congressional and presidential power and resist its abuse.

New Book: Richard Posner. By William Domnarski

Richard Posner. By William Domnarski. Oxford University Press 2016. ISBN: 9780199332311; 0199332312.

  • The first biographical treatment of the enormously influential Judge Richard Posner
  • Author has unprecedented access to Posner, as well as a wealth of relevant interview subjects and material
  • Domnarski examines the life experience, personality, academic career, jurisprudence, and professional relationships of his subject with depth and clarity
  • A comprehensive and accessible account of a unique judge who has dominated the way law is understood in contemporary America

Richard PosnerJudge Richard Posner is one of the great legal minds of our age, on par with such generation-defining judges as Holmes, Hand, and Friendly. A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the principal exponent of the enormously influential law and economics movement, he writes provocative books as a public intellectual, receives frequent media attention, and has been at the center of some very high-profile legal spats. He is also a member of an increasingly rare breed-judges who write their own opinions rather than delegating the work to clerks-and therefore we have unusually direct access to the workings of his mind and judicial philosophy.

New Book: Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary. By Richard A. Posner

Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary. By Richard A. Posner. Harvard University Press 2016. ISBN: 9780674286030; 0674286030.

Judges and legal scholars talk past one another, if they have any conversation at all. Academics couch their criticisms of judicial decisions in theoretical terms, which leads many judges—at the risk of intellectual stagnation—to dismiss most academic discourse as opaque and divorced from reality. In Divergent Paths, Richard Posner turns his attention to this widening gap within the legal profession, reflecting on its causes and consequences and asking what can be done to close or at least narrow it.

The shortcomings of academic legal analysis are real, but they cannot disguise the fact that the modern judiciary has several serious deficiencies that academic research and teaching could help to solve or alleviate. In U.S. federal courts, which is the focus of Posner’s analysis of the judicial path, judges confront ever more difficult cases, many involving complex and arcane scientific and technological distinctions, yet continue to be wedded to legal traditions sometimes centuries old. Posner asks how legal education can be made less theory-driven and more compatible with the present and future demands of judging and lawyering.

The Complete Posner on Posner Series @ Concurring Opinions

The Posner on Posner series began on November 24, 2014 and ended with the Afterword on January 5, 2015. Below is a hyperlinked list of all the posts.

Table of Contents

  1. The Maverick – A Biographical Sketch of Judge Richard Posner: Part I
  1. The Maverick – A Biographical Sketch of Judge Richard Posner: Part II, The Will to Greatness
  1. The Man Behind the Robes — A Q & A with Richard Posner
  1. The Judge & Company – Questions for Judge Posner from Judges, Law Professors & a Journalist
  1. On Legal Education & Legal Scholarship — More questions for Judge Posner
  1. On Free Expression & the First Amendment — More questions for Judge Posner
  1. On Privacy, Free Speech, & Related Matters – Richard Posner vs David Cole & Others
  1. On Judicial Reputation: More questions for Judge Posner
  1. Posner on Same-Sex Marriage – Then & Now
  1. Posner on Case Workloads & Making Judges Work Harder
  1. The Promethean Posner – An Interview with the Judge’s Biographer
  1. Afterword: Posner at 75 – “It’s My Job”

Forthcoming: Richard Posner (Oxford University Press, Spring, 2015) by William Domnarski.

Richard Posner


Above the Law 的报道 “Judge Posner’s Blistering Benchslaps At The Same-Sex Marriage Arguments”

As we mentioned in Morning Docket and on Twitter, yesterday’s Seventh Circuit arguments weren’t fun for the defenders of Wisconsin and Indiana’s same-sex marriage bans. The three judges, especially Judge Richard Posner, were tough — very tough.

Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed, a leading chronicler of marriage-equality litigation, described the proceedings as “the most lopsided arguments over marriage bans at a federal appeals court this year.” Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress called it “a bloodbath.”

That’s no exaggeration. Let’s check out the specifics….

A Seventh Circuit panel consisting of Judge Richard Posner, Judge Ann Claire Williams, and Judge David F. Hamilton heard argument on Tuesday in two cases: Baskin v. Bogan, a challenge to Indiana’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage, and Wolf v. Walker, a challenge to Wisconsin’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. You can listen to the arguments here (Baskin) and here (Wolf).

Richard A. Posner, Economic Analysis of Law, 9th Edition.

Richard A. Posner, Economic Analysis of Law, 9th Edition. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2014. ISBN: 9781454833888.

Lucid, comprehensive, and definitive in its field, this text covers every aspect of economic analysis of the law.


  • Two new chapters, one on intellectual property, one on international and comparative law, both exploding fields of great importance.
  • Earlier editions’ questions have been converted to answers, making the book more accessible and informative.
  • Revised to be clearer and less technical.
  • More eclectic, reflecting recent criticisms of “rational choice” theory, in particular the need to supplement it with insights from psychology.
  • Greater attention paid to judicial behavior, realistically modeled and explained in economic terms.
  • Incorporates insights from the veritable explosion of books and articles published in the last few years on economic analysis of law.

Richard A. Posner is a judge of the U.S. Court Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of numerous books, including Overcoming Law, a New York Times Book Review editors’ choices for best book of 1995 and An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton, one of Times‘ choices for Best Book of the Year in 1999 and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, 2000.

New Book: Reflections on Judging. By Richard A. Posner

Reflections on Judging. By Richard A. Posner. Harvard University Press 2013. ISBN: 0674725085, 9780674725089


Reflections on JudgingIn Reflections on Judging, Richard Posner distills the experience of his thirty-one years as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Surveying how the judiciary has changed since his 1981 appointment, he engages the issues at stake today, suggesting how lawyers should argue cases and judges decide them, how trials can be improved, and, most urgently, how to cope with the dizzying pace of technological advance that makes litigation ever more challenging to judges and lawyers.

For Posner, legal formalism presents one of the main obstacles to tackling these problems. Formalist judges—most notably Justice Antonin Scalia—needlessly complicate the legal process by advocating “canons of constructions” (principles for interpreting statutes and the Constitution) that are confusing and self-contradictory. Posner calls instead for a renewed commitment to legal realism, whereby a good judge gathers facts, carefully considers context, and comes to a sensible conclusion that avoids inflicting collateral damage on other areas of the law. This, Posner believes, was the approach of the jurists he most admires and seeks to emulate: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, Learned Hand, Robert Jackson, and Henry Friendly, and it is an approach that can best resolve our twenty-first-century legal disputes.


“A deep and thought-provoking collection of insightful analyses of various aspects of being a judge, told from an insider’s perspective, but with appropriate and equally thoughtful caveats about the advantages and disadvantages of an insider’s account.”—Frederick Schauer, University of Virginia School of Law

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Judge on the Challenges to Judges
Two Kinds of Complexity
Extrajudicial Writing by Judges
Plan of the Book
Appendix: External versus Internal Complexity in Federal Adjudication

1. The Road to 219 South Dearborn Street
Education and Early Career
The Federal Judicial Appointment Process in 1981
Transition, and the Question of Initial Judicial Training

2. The Federal Judiciary Evolves
A Half-Century of Change
Input-Output, with Special Reference to the Supreme Court
Staff and Specialization in Relation to Rank

3. The Challenge of Complexity
Complexity Further Explained
Examples, Primarily from Criminal Law and Sentencing
The Impact of Technology
Judicial Insouciance about the Real
Specialization the Solution?
Internal Complexity: The Case of the Bluebook

4. Formalism and Realism in Appellate Decision Making
The Formalist Judge
The Realist Judge
Advice to New Appellate Judges

5. The Inadequate Appellate Record
Internet Research by Judges
Is a Word Really Worth a Thousand Pictures?

6. Coping Strategies for Appellate Judges I: Judicial Self-Restraint
Thayer and His Epigones
The Decline of Self-Restraint
The Rise of Constitutional Theory
Thayerism’s Death and Legacy

7. Coping Strategies for Appellate Judges II: Interpretation
The Spirit Killeth, but the Letter Giveth Life
Dreaming a Constitution
Opposites Attract and Repel
Realist Interpretation

8. Make It Simple, Make It New: Opinion Writing and Appellate Advocacy
The Signs of Bad Judicial Writing
The Writer Model versus the Manager Model
Management versus Managerialism
The Formalist Opinion
Rules of Good Opinion Writing
The Morris Opinion
Some Tips on Appellate Advocacy
Appendix: United States v. Morris (Original and Rewritten)

9. Forays into the District Court
Expert Witnesses and Trial by Jury: An Anecdotal Introduction
Party-Appointed and Court-Appointed Expert Witnesses
The Jury
Jury Trials in Patent Cases
Internet Research by Jurors
Other Issues
Appendix: Jury Instructions in Chamberlain v. Lear

10. What Can Be Done, Modestly?
Initial Judicial Training
Continuing Judicial Education
The Widening Gap between Academia and the Judiciary
The Role of the Law Schools in Continuing Judicial Education
MOOCs to the Rescue?

Conclusion: Realism, the Path Forward

Richard A. Posner is Circuit Judge, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.


理查德·波斯纳文集 ★ 新书讯

并非自杀契约理查德·波斯纳:《并非自杀契约:国家紧急状态时期的宪法》(Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency),苏力译,北京大学出版社2009年。@豆瓣@小组

* * *









苏力,少年从军,当过工人、政府雇员。毕业于北京大学法律系(学士,1982);1985年读研究生期间赴美留学,先后获LL.M(McGeorge)、M.A.和Ph.D(Arizona State)学位。1992年起任教于北京大学法学院;现任北京大学法学院教授、院长,长江学者。






1998年,我感到自己《法理学问题》的译文问题不少,除了一些令自己难堪的错失之外,最大的问题是由于翻译时刚回国,中文表达比较生疏,加之基于当时的一种奇怪观点,希望保持英文文法,因此译文太欧化,一定令读者很头痛。我为此深感内疚,并决定重译该书,到 99年上半年完成了译稿。


2000 年8月回国之后,就开始了一系列工作。中国政法大学出版社社长李传敢、编辑张越、赵瑞红等给予了积极并且是很大的支持。会同出版社一起,我进行了很麻烦的版权联系和交易。而与此同时,我自己也忙里偷闲,特别是利用寒暑假,进行翻译,并组织翻译。因此,才有了目前的这一套丛书,完成了多年来的一个心愿。


An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton理查德·波斯纳:《国家大事》:

Richard A. Posner, An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton. (1999)

New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice for Best Book of the Year, 1999.

Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, 2000.

President Bill Clinton’s year of crisis, which began when his affair with Monica Lewinsky hit the front pages in January 1998, engendered a host of important questions of criminal and constitutional law, public and private morality, and political and cultural conflict.

In a book written while the events of the year were unfolding, Richard Posner presents a balanced and scholarly understanding of the crisis that also has the freshness and immediacy of journalism. Posner clarifies the issues and eliminates misunderstandings concerning facts and the law that were relevant to the investigation by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and to the impeachment proceeding itself. He explains the legal definitions of obstruction of justice and perjury, which even many lawyers are unfamiliar with. He carefully assesses the conduct of Starr and his prosecutors, including their contacts with the lawyers for Paula Jones and their hardball tactics with Monica Lewinsky and her mother. He compares and contrasts the Clinton affair with Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, exploring the subtle relationship between public and private morality. And he examines the place of impeachment in the American constitutional scheme, the pros and cons of impeaching President Clinton, and the major procedural issues raised by both the impeachment in the House and the trial in the Senate. This book, reflecting the breadth of Posner’s experience and expertise, will be the essential foundation for anyone who wants to understand President Clinton’s impeachment ordeal.

Hardcover: 276 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.96 x 9.42 x 6.35
Publisher: Harvard University Press; (September 1, 1999)
ISBN: 0674000803