Judge Says There’s ‘Absolutely No Value’ in Studying U.S. Constitution
U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner sees “absolutely no value” in studying the Constitution.
In a recent op-ed for Slate, Posner argues that the original Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the post-Civil War amendments “do not speak to today,” as “eighteenth-century guys, however smart,” could not have foreseen modern culture and technology.
“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),” he writes. “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,” he argues.
Posner added that he thinks law professors are “too respectful” of the Supreme Court which interprets the Constitution “based on current concerns.”
“On a different subject, I worry that law professors are too respectful of the Supreme Court,” says Posner, “in part perhaps because they don’t want to spoil the chances of their students to obtain Supreme Court clerkships.”
“I think the Supreme Court is at a nadir,” meaning an all-time low. “The justices are far too uniform in background, and I don’t think there are any real stars among them; the last real star, Robert Jackson, died more than 60 years ago.”
An outspoken opponent of Justice Antonin Scalia, Posner added that he regards the “posthumous encomia” for the late conservative “absurd.”
“In short, let’s not let the dead bury the living,” he concludes.
Posner’s op-ed comes the same week as the Supreme Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, striking down a commonsense Texas women’s health law to the benefit of big abortion. Many criticize the decision as a case of judicial activism.