I was interestedly burrowing into the article, thinking something like "Hm. Shit deal they got, eh? We're all doomed."--until I got to the section subheaded "Richard A. Posner," on page 11 (I think).
Now, because IANAL etc., I'm reflexively put in a "Whatever you say, man" state of mind when reading accounts of complex legal wranglings; it's like I'm in Tokyo and I'm asking a random Japanese-looking passerby where the subway entrance is--I expect them to point me the right way because, well, I asked, and a Japanese-looking guy is at least talking to me. But, on page 11 (I think), I hit something that I know enough about to snap me back into "Aha! You're fulla shit, dude!" mode: a subsection titled "Richard A. Posner."
Richard A. Posner is a quasi-libertarian judge, college prof., author, &c (and if that L-word makes what he says valueless to you, well, fine; you're at the right site[smiley]). His legal philosophy is a "pragmatic" Richard Rorty sort of philosophy (with "telling other people what to do when they're not really bothering us" in place of "cruelty," for those of you who know what that's about), and he's big on demystifying The Capital-L Law and Capital-I Intellectuals. He's the most frequently cited legal scholar in the U.S.--partly because legal scholars tend more toward quasi-libertarianism than "law professionals" do. Anyway, he's the judge whose precedent gives nude dancing First Amendment protection, for example. Also, he's a funny guy, of an "ironic turn of mind" (you'll need to know that later).
Okay. So I hit the "Richard A. Posner" section, and I'm surprised to find this:
"Yeah, he's one of the Judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals."
"Right. But he used to be the Chief Justice before his buddy Easter-bunny took over. You know those two, they're joined at the hip. They call the shots on the Appellate Court. Anyways. Posner was involved in some kind of a debate against a law professor at the University of Chicago."
"And... you should read the things he is saying. I mean, I can't believe the arrogance of this guy! It's absolutely incredible, especially when you take into consideration the fact that he was one of the Judges who sat in a secret hearing and barred Kolody's attorney from admission to the Court. No justification. "You're out!" "That's it!" "Goodbye!" With no consideration for his due process rights, equal protection and all that. You know what the 14th Amendment is don't you?"
I have to interject here and point out that people who aren't characters in plays don't have exchanges like these, especially the one-and-a-half that follow, so I doubt any of this deserves the quotation marks that the article gives it, but anyway....
"Yeah, well, I don't fault you for not knowing the Constitution. Most lawyers don't know it. And you're young."
"The point is that this guy, Posner, was quoted extensively in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. The article says: 'People who think that federal judges base their legal opinions solely on their interpretation of the law and the Constitution are living in a make-believe world. At least that's the view advanced by Judge Richard A. Posner of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.'"
Skolnick could barely contain himself.
"A make-believe world! And get this. Get this! He says, of the Supreme Court Justices, and this is a direct quote, "They don't believe in that equal protection stuff." Can you believe it?" Equal protection stuff, make-believe world! Heee-heeee-heeee."
After reading these words I finally began to understand why it is that Sherman Skolnick has been fighting to put corrupt Judges in prison for over forty years. Posner's arrogant dismissal of the constitution and its authority over those we have entrusted with our courts is not only disheartening, it is dangerous. As Dan Ivy told me in one of our last interviews,
"When the people of this country come to believe that they cannot walk into a federal courtroom and get a fair hearing, that is when they will begin turning to men like Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and making them their leaders. And then you will see a system that is so violent and totalitarian that it will make all of this corruption seem like child's play."
Exactly Posner's point. What Posner is saying is what Skolnick is saying: "Judges don't follow The Law, you idiot. This ain't no Promised Land. We're, unfortunately, merely politicans, and we're not allowed to behave otherwise. I'd like it to be different, but it isn't. Don't lie to people and tell them that it is." But Skolnick is acting like what Posner is saying is, in intent, the opposite of what Skolnick is saying, and the author of the guerillanews.com article doesn't bother to figure that out.
The whole story may be true. It does sound like the Chicago judge was a criminal dirtbag. But I can't believe this account, because it's wrong about the only part of the story that I know anything about. Anyone who's familiar with Posner's work, or with him at all, knows that it's preposterous to accuse him of coming out in favor of corrupt judgery. And an article that displays so little knowledge about a character to which it devotes an entire page probably isn't reliable; it believes its own sources too uncritically. Unfortunately. It seems like an interesting case.
(The fact that the story doesn't delve into the criminal history of the Rose law firm (which includes some certain famous Democrats) suggests a schoolboy bias as well. But I didn't mention that, because I'm not a Republican.)
I mean, we're trying to save the whales. They're stuck up
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