Richard Posner


Richard Allen Posner (/ˈpznər/; born January 11, 1939) is an American jurist and legal scholar who served as a federal appellate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1981 to 2017.[1] A senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, Posner is a leading figure in the field of law and economics, and was identified by The Journal of Legal Studies as the most cited legal scholar of the 20th century.[2] He is widely considered to be one of the most influential legal scholars in the United States.[3][4][5][6][7]

Richard Posner
Richard Posner at Harvard University.jpg
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
In office
August 1, 1993 – August 1, 2000
Preceded byWilliam J. Bauer
Succeeded byJoel Flaum
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
In office
December 1, 1981 – September 2, 2017
Appointed byRonald Reagan
Preceded byPhilip Willis Tone
Succeeded byMichael Y. Scudder
Personal details
Richard Allen Posner

(1939-01-11) January 11, 1939 (age 83)
New York City, U.S.
Spouse(s)Charlene Horn
Children2, including Eric Posner
EducationYale University (BA)
Harvard University (LLB)

Posner is known for his scholarly range and for writing on topics outside of his primary field, law. In his various writings and books, he has addressed animal rights, feminism, drug prohibition, same-sex marriage, Keynesian economics, and academic moral philosophy, among other subjects.

Posner is the author of nearly 40 books on jurisprudence, economics, and several other topics, including Economic Analysis of Law, The Economics of Justice, The Problems of Jurisprudence, Sex and Reason, Law, Pragmatism and Democracy, and The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy. Posner has generally been identified as being politically conservative;[citation needed] however, in recent years he has distanced himself from the positions of the Republican party,[8] authoring more liberal rulings involving same-sex marriage and abortion.[9][10] In A Failure of Capitalism, he has written that the 2008 financial crisis has caused him to question the rational-choice, laissez-faire economic model that lies at the heart of his law and economics theory.

Early life and educationEdit

Richard Posner was born on January 11, 1939, in New York City. His father's family were of Romanian Jewish descent, and his mother's family were Ashkenazi Jews from Galicia in the Austrian Empire.[11][12]

After high school, Posner studied English literature at Yale University, graduating in 1959 with an A.B. degree summa cum laude and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. He then attended Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review. He graduated in 1962 ranked first in his class with an LL.B. magna cum laude.[13]

Legal careerEdit

External video
  Discussion with Posner and his biographer William Domnarski at the Seminary Coop Bookstore in Chicago[14]

After law school, Posner clerked for Justice William J. Brennan Jr. of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1962 to 1963. He then served as an attorney-advisor to Commissioner Philip Elman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC); he would later argue that the FTC ought to be abolished.[13] Posner went on to work in the Office of the Solicitor General in the United States Department of Justice, under Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall.[13]

In 1968, Posner accepted a position teaching at Stanford Law School.[13] In 1969, Posner moved to the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School, where he remains a senior lecturer. He was a founding editor of The Journal of Legal Studies in 1972.

On October 27, 1981, Posner was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated by Judge Philip Willis Tone.[15] Posner was confirmed by the United States Senate on November 24, 1981, and received his commission on December 1, 1981. He served as Chief Judge of that court from 1993 to 2000 but remained a part-time professor at the University of Chicago.[15] Judge Posner retired from the federal bench on September 2, 2017.

Posner is a pragmatist in philosophy and an economist in legal methodology. He has written many articles and books on a wide range of topics including law and economics, law and literature, the federal judiciary, moral theory, intellectual property, antitrust law, public intellectuals, and legal history.[16] He is also well known for writing on a wide variety of current events including the 2000 presidential election recount controversy, Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky[15] and his resulting impeachment procedure,[17] and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[18]

His analysis of the Lewinsky scandal cut across most party and ideological divisions. Posner's greatest influence is through his writings on law and economics; The New York Times called him "one of the most important antitrust scholars of the past half-century." In December 2004, Posner started a joint blog with Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker, titled simply "The Becker-Posner Blog".[19] Both men contributed to the blog until shortly before Becker's death in May 2014, after which Posner announced that the blog was being discontinued.[20] He also had a blog at The Atlantic, where he discussed the then-current Great Recession.[21]

Posner was mentioned in 2005 as a potential nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor because of his prominence as a scholar and an appellate judge. Robert S. Boynton wrote in The Washington Post that he believed Posner would never sit on the Supreme Court because despite his "obvious brilliance," he would be criticized for his occasionally "outrageous conclusions," such as his contention "that the rule of law is an accidental and dispensable element of legal ideology," his argument that buying and selling children on the free market would lead to better outcomes than the present situation, government-regulated adoption, and his support for the legalization of marijuana and LSD.[22]

Posner on Posner Series

Judge Posner was the focus of a "series" of posts (many Q&A interviews with the Judge) done by University of Washington Law Professor Ronald K. L. Collins. The twelve posts—collectively titled "Posner on Posner"—began on November 24, 2014, and ended on January 5, 2015, and appeared on the Concurring Opinions blog.[23]

Legal and philosophical positionsEdit

Judge Posner making a dinner speech at the Federal Trade Commission.

In Posner's youth and in the 1960s as law clerk to William J. Brennan, he was generally counted as a liberal. However, in reaction to some of the perceived excesses of the late 1960s, Posner developed a strongly conservative bent. He encountered Chicago School economists Aaron Director and George Stigler while a professor at Stanford.[13] Posner summarized his views on law and economics in his 1973 book The Economic Analysis of Law.[13]

Today, although generally viewed as to the right in academia, Posner's pragmatism, his qualified moral relativism and moral skepticism,[24] and his affection for the thought of Friedrich Nietzsche set him apart from most American conservatives. As a judge, with the exception of his rulings with respect to the sentencing guidelines and the recording of police actions, Posner's judicial votes have always placed him on the moderate-to-liberal wing of the Republican Party, where he has become more isolated over time. In July 2012, Posner stated, "I've become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy."[25] Among Posner's judicial influences are the American jurists Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Learned Hand.

In June 2016, Posner was criticized by right-wing media organizations for a column he wrote for Slate in which he stated, "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."[26][27]

He has called his approach to judging pragmatic. "I pay very little attention to legal rules, statutes, constitutional provisions. ... A case is just a dispute. The first thing you do is ask yourself—forget about the law—what is a sensible resolution of this dispute? The next thing ... is to see if a recent Supreme Court precedent or some other legal obstacle stood in the way of ruling in favor of that sensible resolution. And the answer is that's actually rarely the case. When you have a Supreme Court case or something similar, they're often extremely easy to get around."[28]


Posner has written several opinions sympathetic to abortion rights, including a decision that held that late term abortion was constitutionally protected in some circumstances.[29]

In November 2015, Posner authored a decision in Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin v. Schimel striking down regulations on abortion clinics in Wisconsin. He rejected the state's argument that the laws were written to protect the health of women and not to make abortion more difficult to obtain. Accusing the state of indirectly trying to ban abortions in the state Posner wrote, "They [Wisconsin] may do this in the name of protecting the health of women who have abortions, yet as in this case the specific measures they support may do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion."[30]

Animal rightsEdit

Posner rejects an ethic of strong animal rights on pragmatic grounds (where such an ethic posits the moral irrelevance of species membership).[31] He recognizes the philosophical force of arguments for strong animal rights, but maintains that human intuition about the paramount value of human life makes it impossible to accommodate an ethic of strong animal rights. Posner, a self-avowed moral anti-realist,[32] does not present his critique of strong animal rights as a deductive proof. Instead, he highlights the practical importance of intuition and emotion over abstract argument. In response to the philosopher Peter Singer in 2001 at Slate magazine, Posner concludes by saying "in our debate, Professor Singer, it is you who are the tough guy, and I the softie, the sentimentalist, willing to base animal rights on empathy, unwilling to follow the utilitarian logic to the harsh conclusions sketched above."[33]

In a 2000 Yale Law Journal book review on the title "Rattling the Cage" by Steven M. Wise, Posner again criticized the legal notion of animal rights. In the review, Posner argues that Wise's approach, using the cognitive ability of animals compared to that of very young normal human beings as a basis for rights-worthiness, is arbitrary and in contrast with major traditional and contemporary philosophies (including the theology of Thomas Aquinas for one and utilitarianism for another). In addition, he points out that this basis for rights has problematic implications—including that it might soon make some computers more worthy of rights than some humans, a conclusion he calls absurd. Posner goes on to reason that granting human-like rights to animals is fraught with implications which could radically disrupt or devalue the rights of human beings. He alludes to Hitler's zoophilia as evidence that respect for animals and humaneness toward human beings are not necessarily associated. Arguing that the analogy of animal rights to the civil rights movement lacks imagination and is not very apt, Posner posits that animal welfare might be better protected by other legal models, one example of which would be stronger laws making animals property, since, he asserts, people tend to protect what they own.[34]

Posner engaged in a debate with the philosopher Peter Singer in 2001 at Slate magazine. He agrees that "gratuitous cruelty to and neglect of animals is wrong and that some costs should be incurred to reduce the suffering of animals raised for food or other human purposes or subjected to medical or other testing and experimentation," but rejects grounding this view in an ethic of strong animal rights, contending that such a premise entails conclusions inconsistent with the reality of human society and psychology. He further states that people whose opinions were changed by consideration of the philosophical arguments presented in Singer's book Animal Liberation failed to see the "radicalism of the ethical vision that powers [their] view on animals, an ethical vision that finds greater value in a healthy pig than in a profoundly retarded child, that commands inflicting a lesser pain on a human being to avert a greater pain to a dog, and that, provided only that a chimpanzee has 1 percent of the mental ability of a normal human being, would require the sacrifice of the human being to save 101 chimpanzees."[33]

Posner emphasizes the importance of facts over arguments in creating social change. He states that his moral intuition says that "it is wrong to give as much weight to a dog's pain as to an infant's pain," and that "[this] is a moral intuition deeper than any reason that could be given for it and impervious to any reason that you or anyone could give against it." Instead, Posner claims that "[expanding and invigorating] the laws that protect animals will require not philosophical arguments for reducing human beings to the level of the other animals but facts, facts that will stimulate a greater empathetic response to animal suffering and facts that will alleviate concern about the human costs of further measures to reduce animal suffering."[33]


Along with Robert Bork, Posner helped shape the antitrust policy changes of the 1970s through his idea that 1960s antitrust laws were in fact making prices higher for the consumer rather than lower, while he viewed lower prices as the essential end goal of any antitrust policy.[13] Posner's and Bork's theories on antitrust evolved into the prevailing view in academia and at the Justice Department in the George H. W. Bush Administration; they have remained the consensus view in both the Justice Department and among legal academics of antitrust.[13]

The BluebookEdit

The Bluebook is the style guide which prescribes the most widely used legal citation system in the United States. Posner is "one of the founding fathers of Bluebook abolitionism, having advocated it for almost twenty-five years, ever since his 1986 University of Chicago Law Review article[35] on the subject."[36] In a 2011 Yale Law Journal article, he wrote:

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation exemplifies hypertrophy in the anthropological sense. It is a monstrous growth, remote from the functional need for legal citation forms, that serves obscure needs of the legal culture and its student subculture.[37]

He describes those needs as unrelated to practical legal activity but instead as social and political.

In the same article, Posner gives an excerpt of the entire citation style guide included (as an appendix) in the short manual he gives his own legal clerks (whom he describes as "very smart"); the appendix is about 2–3 pages long, and he says the entire manual is about 1% as long as the Bluebook.


Posner opposes the U.S. "War on Drugs" and called it "quixotic". In a 2003 CNBC interview he discussed the difficulty of enforcing criminal marijuana laws, and asserted that it is hard to justify the criminalization of marijuana when compared to other substances. In a talk at Elmhurst College in 2012, Posner said that "I don't think that we should have a fraction of the drug laws that we have. I think it's really absurd to be criminalizing possession or use or distribution of marijuana."[38]

National securityEdit

At the Cybercrime 2020: The Future of Online Crime and Investigations conference held at Georgetown University Law Center on November 20, 2014, Posner, in addition to further reinforcing his views on privacy being over-rated, stated that "If the NSA wants to vacuum all the trillions of bits of information that are crawling through the electronic worldwide networks, I think that's fine. ... Much of what passes for the name of privacy is really just trying to conceal the disreputable parts of your conduct," Posner added. "Privacy is mainly about trying to improve your social and business opportunities by concealing the sorts of bad activities that would cause other people not to want to deal with you." Posner also criticized mobile OS companies for enabling end-to-end encryption in their newest software. "I'm shocked at the thought that a company would be permitted to manufacture an electronic product that the government would not be able to search" he said.[39]

Patent and copyright lawEdit

Posner has expressed concerns, on the blog he contributed to with Gary Becker, that both patent and copyright protection, though particularly the former, may be excessive. He argues that the cost of inventing must be compared to the cost of copying in order to determine the optimal patent protection for an inventor. When patent protection is too strongly in favor of the inventor, market efficiency is decreased. He illustrates his argument by comparing the pharmaceutical industry (where the cost on invention is high) with the software industry (where the cost of invention is relatively low).[40] However, Posner suggested that strengthening copyright law, including a possible bar on linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials, may be necessary as a means to prevent what he views as free riding on newspaper journalism.[41][42][43] His co-blogger Gary Becker simultaneously posted a contrasting opinion that while the Internet might hurt newspapers, it will not harm the vitality of the press, but rather embolden it.[44]

Police recordingEdit

As part of a three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit in Chicago, weighing a challenge to the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which bars the secret recording of conversations without the consent of all the parties to the conversation, Posner was to deliver another memorable quote. At issue was the constitutionality of the Illinois wiretapping law, which makes it illegal to record someone without consent even when filming public acts like arrests in public. Posner interrupted the ACLU after just 14 words, stating, "Yeah, I know. But I'm not interested, really, in what you want to do with these recordings of peoples' encounters with the police. ..." Posner continued: "Once all this stuff can be recorded, there's going to be a lot more of this snooping around by reporters and bloggers. ... I'm always suspicious when the civil liberties people start telling the police how to do their business."[45] The 7th Circuit upheld the challenge, 2–1, striking down the Eavesdropping Act, but Posner wrote a dissenting opinion.


In a dissent from an earlier ruling by his protégé Frank Easterbrook, Posner wrote that Easterbrook's decision that female guards could watch male prisoners while in the shower or bathroom must stem from a belief that prisoners are "members of a different species, indeed as a type of vermin, devoid of human dignity and entitled to no respect. ... I do not myself consider the 1.5 million inmates of American prisons and jails in that light."[13][46]

Race and public educationEdit

Posner's views of public education policy are informed by his view that groups of students differ in intellectual ability, and therefore, that it is faulty to impose uniform educational standards on all schools. His view in this regard is undergirded by his view that different races differ in intelligence. (However, Posner says that he thinks it is "highly unlikely" that these differences are rooted in genetics, rather than environment.)

In a blog post, Posner wrote, "I suggest that the only worthwhile reforms of teacher compensation are raising teacher wages uniformly, providing recognition and modest bonuses for outstanding teachers, and increasing hiring standards."[47] In the same post, he wrote, "I am not clear what we should think the problem of American education (below the college level) is. Most children of middle-class ... Americans are white or Asian and attend good public or private schools, usually predominantly white. The average white IQ is of course 100 and the Asian (like the Jewish) almost one standard deviation higher, that is, 115. The average black IQ is 85, a full standard deviation below the white average, and the average Hispanic IQ has been estimated recently at 89. Black children in particular often come from disordered households, which has a negative effect on ability to learn and perhaps indeed on IQ. ... Increasingly, black and Hispanic students find themselves in schools with few white or Asian students. The challenge to American education is to provide a useful education to the large number of Americans who are unlikely to benefit from a college education or from high school courses aimed at preparing students for college."

Same-sex marriageEdit

In September 2014, Posner authored the opinions in the consolidated cases of Wolf v. Walker and Baskin v. Bogan challenging Wisconsin and Indiana's state level same-sex marriage bans. The opinion of the three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Indiana and Wisconsin's bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, affirming a lower court ruling.[10] During oral arguments, Wisconsin's attorney general cited tradition as a reason for maintaining the ban, prompting Posner to note that: "It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry—a tradition that got swept away." Though Posner argued in his 1992 book Sex and Reason that prohibitions against gay marriage were rationally justified, he held in the 2014 cases that the same-sex marriage bans were both "a tradition of hate" and "savage discrimination".[48] Posner wrote the opinion for the unanimous panel, finding the laws unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. The Supreme Court then denied writ of certiorari and left Posner's ruling to stand.


When reviewing Alan Dershowitz's book, Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge, Posner wrote in the September 2002 The New Republic, "If torture is the only means of obtaining the information necessary to prevent the detonation of a nuclear bomb in Times Square, torture should be used—-and will be used—to obtain the information.... No one who doubts that this is the case should be in a position of responsibility."[49]

Judicial careerEdit

Posner is one of the most prolific legal writers, through both the number and topical breadth of his opinions, to say nothing of his scholarly and popular writings.[50] Unlike many other judges, he writes all his own opinions.[13] Nobel Laureate economist Robert Solow says that Posner "is an apparently inexhaustible writer on ... nearly everything. To call him a polymath would be a gross understatement. ... Judge Posner evidently writes the way other men breathe", though the economist describes the judge's grasp of economics as, "in some respects, ... precarious."[51]

In 1999, Posner was welcomed as a private mediator among the parties involved in the Microsoft antitrust case.[15]

A study published by Fred Shapiro in the University of Chicago's The Journal of Legal Studies found Posner is the most-cited legal scholar of all time by a considerable margin, as Posner's work has generated 7,981 cites compared to the runner-up Ronald Dworkin's 4,488 cites.[2] Aside from the sheer volume of his output, Posner's opinions enjoy great respect from other judges, based on citations, and within the legal academy, where his opinions are taught in many foundational law courses.

Notable casesEdit

In his decision in the 1997 case State Oil Co. v. Khan, Posner wrote that a ruling 1968 antitrust precedent set by the Supreme Court was "moth-eaten", "wobbly", and "unsound".[13] Nevertheless, he abided by the previous decision with his ruling.[13] The Supreme Court granted certiorari and overturned the 1968 ruling unanimously; Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the opinion and spoke positively of both Posner's criticism and his decision to abide by the ruling until the Court decided to change it.[52]

Tort lawEdit

In Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co. v. American Cyanamid Co. (1990), Posner lowered the standard of legal liability a railroad faced for a hazardous waste spill.[53][54] The case became a staple of first year torts courses taught in American law schools, where the case is used to address the question of when it is better to use negligence liability or strict liability.[55]

In 1999, Posner applied the lex loci delicti commissi rule on choice of law rather than the Restatement of Torts, Second when rejecting a claim by an Illinois dentist who slipped and fell in Acapulco, Mexico.[56] In 2003, Posner affirmed a punitive damages award of 37.2 times the compensatory damages guests won from a bedbug infested Motel 6.[57] In 2003, Posner found that co-workers who did not prevent a hypoglycemic diabetic's fatal attempt to drive himself home violated no duty to rescue.[58]

Contract lawEdit

In Morin Building Products Co. v. Baystone Construction, Inc. (1983), Posner held that the Uniform Commercial Code presumes contracts impose an objective standard upon what would subjectively be illusory promises.[59] In 1987, Posner dissented when Judges Frank H. Easterbrook, joined by Richard Dickson Cudahy, found that a stockbroker could sue his former employer under SEC Rule 10b-5 after he quit shortly before the firm's lucrative unannounced merger.[60][61] In 1990, Posner found that Delaware corporate law did not permit an airline's board from adopting a poison pill provision that encouraged its machinists to take strike action if its pilots' takeover attempt succeeded.[62] In 1991, Posner held that good faith performance is a factual question of the defendant's state of mind that must be proven at trial.[63]

Civil rightsEdit

In 1984, Posner wrote for the en banc circuit when it held that a consent decree regulating law enforcement Red Squads did not apply to FBI terrorism investigations, over the dissent of Judge Richard Dickson Cudahy. In January 2001, Posner loosened that consent decree to allow the Chicago Police Department to conduct counterterrorism operations.[64]

In United States v. Marshall (1990), Posner dissented when Frank H. Easterbrook, writing for the en banc circuit, held that the punishment for possession of LSD is determined by the weight of the carrier it is found within.[65] The circuit's judgment was then affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States.[66]

In 1995, Posner, joined by Judge Walter J. Cummings Jr., affirmed an injunction blocking Illinois from closing schools on Good Friday as a violation of the Establishment Clause, over the dissent of Judge Daniel Anthony Manion.[67] In 2000, Posner found that partners at a big law firm could be considered employees with regard to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.[68] Posner found that secondary liability attaches to a file sharing service for contributory copyright infringement in In re Aimster Copyright Litigation (2003).[69]

Awards and honorsEdit

A 2004 poll by Legal Affairs magazine named Posner as one of the top twenty legal thinkers in the U.S.[70]

In March 2007, the Harvard Law Review dedicated an issue of faculty written case comments in tribute of Judge Posner.[71] In 2008, the University of Chicago Law Review published a commemorative issue: "Commemorating Twenty-five Years of Judge Richard A. Posner."[72] One of Posner's former clerks, Tim Wu, calls Posner "probably America's greatest living jurist."[50] Another of Posner's former legal clerks, Lawrence Lessig, wrote, "There isn't a federal judge I respect more, both as a judge and person."[73] The former dean of Yale Law School, Anthony T. Kronman, said that Posner was "one of the most rational human beings" he had ever met.[13]

Personal lifeEdit

Posner and his wife, Charlene Horn, have lived in Hyde Park, Chicago, for many years. His son Eric Posner is also a prominent legal scholar and teaches at the University of Chicago Law School. Posner is a self-described "cat person" and is devoted to his Maine Coon, Pixie.[74] Posner appeared with his previous cat, a Maine Coon named Dinah, in a photograph accompanying a lengthy profile (of Posner) in The New Yorker in 2001.[75] He has been known to illustrate legal points in his opinions with elaborate cat-related metaphors and examples.[76]

Posner was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in early 2018, approximately six months after leaving the bench, and as of 2022 resides in a nursing facility.[77]

Selected worksEdit


External video
  Interview with Posner on An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment and Trial of President Clinton conducted by Milt Rosenberg for "Extension 720", WGN Radio, September 22, 1999, C-SPAN
  Interview with Posner on Breaking the Deadlock conducted by Milt Rosenberg for "Extension 720", August 23, 2001, C-SPAN
  Booknotes interview with Posner on Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline, June 2, 2002, C-SPAN
  Presentation by Posner on Catastrophe: Risk and Response, March 11, 2005, C-SPAN
  Panel discussion including Richard Posner, featuring discussion of his book The Little Book of Plagiarism, March 14, 2007, C-SPAN
  • 1973 Economic Analysis of Law, 1st ed.
    • 2007 Economic Analysis of Law, 7th ed., ISBN 978-0-7355-6354-4
    • 2010 Economic Analysis of Law, 8th ed., ISBN 978-0-7355-9442-5
    • 2014 Economic Analysis of Law, 9th ed.
  • 1978 Antitrust Law: An Economic Perspective[78]
    • 2001 Antitrust Law, 2nd ed., ISBN 978-0-226-67576-3
  • 1981 The Economics of Justice, ISBN 978-0-674-23526-7
  • 1985 The Federal Courts: Crisis and Reform
    • 1996 The Federal Courts: Challenge and Reform (2d ed.), ISBN 978-0-674-29627-5
  • 1988 Law and Literature: A Misunderstood Relation, ISBN 978-0-674-51468-3
  • 1990 The Problems of Jurisprudence, ISBN 978-0-674-70876-1
  • 1990 Cardozo: A Study in Reputation, ISBN 978-0-226-67556-5
  • 1992 Sex and Reason, ISBN 978-0-674-80280-3
  • 1995 Overcoming Law, ISBN 978-0-674-64926-2, Among the topics is a critique of Robert Bork's constitutional theories, review of books about the legal system in the Third Reich, and a discussion of the legal culture reflected in the works of Tom Wolfe and E.M. Forster.
  • 1995 Aging and Old Age, ISBN 978-0-226-67568-8
  • 1996 Law and Legal Theory in England and America, ISBN 978-0-19-826471-2
  • 1999 The Problematics of Moral and Legal Theory, ISBN 978-0-674-00799-4
  • 1999 An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-00080-3.
  • 2001 Frontiers of Legal Theory, ISBN 978-0-674-01360-5
  • 2001 Breaking the Deadlock: The 2000 Presidential Election and the Courts, ISBN 978-0-691-09073-3
  • 2002 Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline, ISBN 978-0-674-00633-1
  • 2003 Law, Pragmatism and Democracy, ISBN 978-0-674-01081-9
  • 2003 The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law (Harvard Univ. Press) (with William Landes), ISBN 978-0-674-01204-2
  • 2004 Catastrophe: Risk and Response, ISBN 978-0-19-530647-7
  • 2005 Preventing Surprise Attacks: Intelligence Reform in the Wake of 9/11, ISBN 978-0-7425-4947-0
  • 2006 Uncertain Shield: The U.S. Intelligence System in the Throes of Reform, ISBN 978-0-7425-5127-5
  • 2006 Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency, ISBN 978-0-19-530427-5
  • 2007 The Little Book of Plagiarism, ISBN 978-0-375-42475-5
  • 2007 Countering Terrorism: Blurred Focus, Halting Steps, ISBN 978-0-7425-5883-0
  • 2008 How Judges Think, ISBN 978-0-674-02820-3
  • 2009 A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of '08 and the Descent into Depression, ISBN 978-0-674-03514-0
  • 2009 Uncommon Sense: Economic Insights, from Marriage to Terrorism (with Gary Becker)
  • 2010 The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy, ISBN 978-0-674-05574-2
  • 2013 Reflections on Judging
  • 2016 Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary
  • 2017 The Federal Judiciary: Strengths and Weaknesses


  • The Federal Trade Commission, 37 U. Chi. L. Rev. 47 (1969)
  • A Theory of Negligence, 1 J. Legal Stud. 29 (1972)
  • The Economics of the Baby Shortage: A Modest Proposal, 7 J. Legal Stud. 323 (with Elisabeth M. Landes) (1978)
  • Statutory Interpretation – In the Classroom and in the Courtroom, 50 U. Chi. L. Rev. 800 (1983)
  • The Problematics of Moral and Legal Theory, 111 Harv. L. Rev. 1637 (1998)
  • Pragmatism Versus Purposivism in First Amendment Analysis, 54 Stan. L. Rev. 737 (2002)
  • Transaction Costs and Antitrust Concerns in the Licensing of Intellectual Property, 4 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 325 (2005)
  • Foreword: A Political Court (The Supreme Court, 2004 Term), 119 Harv. L. Rev. 31 (2005)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Meisner, Jason (September 1, 2017). "Richard Posner announces sudden retirement from federal appeals court in Chicago". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Shapiro, Fred R. (2000). "The Most-Cited Legal Scholars". Journal of Legal Studies. 29 (1): 409–426. doi:10.1086/468080. S2CID 143676627.
  3. ^ Witt, John Fabian (October 7, 2016). "The Provocative Life of Judge Richard Posner". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  4. ^ "The judicial philosophy of Richard Posner". The Economist. September 9, 2017. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  5. ^ "Judge Richard Posner explains why we should "burn all copies of the Bluebook"". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ "Swan Song of a Great Colossus: The Latest from Richard Posner". Law & Liberty. May 13, 2019. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Schaper, David (September 2017). "Federal Judge Richard Posner, A Leading Legal Voice, Retiring From Bench". NPR. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  8. ^ Warren, James (July 14, 2012). "Richard Posner Bashes Supreme Court's Citizens United Ruling". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  9. ^ Farias, Christian. "Judge Appointed by Ronald Reagan Strikes Down Wisconsin Abortion Law". Huffington Post. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Bell, Kyle. "Appeals Court Rules Indiana and Wisconsin Gay Marriage Bans Unconstitutional". South Bend Voice. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  11. ^
  12. ^ The Bench Burner: An interview with Richard Posner Archived May 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Reprint of article from New Yorker by Larissa MacFarquhar, Dec. 10, 2001: "Posner grew up in New York – first in Manhattan and then in Scarsdale. His mother's relatives were Jews from Vienna who looked down on his father's family, which was from Romania and poorer than they were. 'They were all poor,' Posner says, 'but my mothers family had toilet paper, and my father's family had newspaper.' " As shown on original sources freely available at, Posner's mother's family was actually from Husiatyn in the Austrian Empire (not Vienna), which is now in Ukraine.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Parloff, Roger (January 10, 2000). "The Negotiator: No one doubts that Richard Posner is a brilliant judge and. ..." Fortune Magazine. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  14. ^ "Richard Posner". C-SPAN. October 4, 2016. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  15. ^ a b c d Brinkley, Joel (November 20, 1999). "Microsoft Case Gets U.S. Judge As a Mediator". The New York Times. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  16. ^ Witt, John Fabian (October 7, 2016). "The Provocative Life of Judge Richard Posner". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  17. ^ See Richard A. Posner, An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton (2000), ISBN 978-0674003910.
  18. ^ "Debates on the War with Iraq". Richard Posner / George P. Fletcher debate. Columbia School of Law. November 1, 2002. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
  19. ^ "The Becker-Posner Blog". Gary Becker and Richard Posner. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  20. ^ Mui, Sarah (May 16, 2014). "Becker-Posner Blog shutters after Gary Becker's death". ABA Journal. Archived from the original on October 9, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  21. ^ "Richard A. Posner – Authors – The Atlantic". Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  22. ^ Boynton, Robert S. Boynton. "'Sounding Off,' a review of Richard Posner's Public Intellectuals", The Washington Post Book World, January 20, 2002.
  23. ^ Collins, Ronald K. L. (January 9, 2015). "The Complete Posner on Posner Series". Concurring Opinions. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  24. ^ Posner, Richard (1998). "The Problematics of Moral and Legal Theory". Harvard Law Review. 111 (7): 1637, 1642–1646. doi:10.2307/1342477. JSTOR 1342477. (clarifying his moral positions)
  25. ^ Nina Totenberg, Federal Judge Richard Posner: The GOP Has Made Me Less Conservative NPR, July 5, 2012
  26. ^ Posner, Richard A. (June 24, 2016). "Supreme Court Breakfast Table". Slate.
  27. ^ "Federal Judge: U.S. Constitution Is Outdated, Judges Should Stop Studying It".
  28. ^ Posner retirement
  29. ^ Rubin, Alissa (1999-02-11) Anti-Abortion Advocates Gain Ground in Late-Term Debate, Los Angeles Times
  30. ^ "Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin v. Brad Schimel". Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  31. ^ "But I do not agree that we have a duty to (the other) animals that arises from their being the equal members of a community composed of all those creatures in the universe that can feel pain, and that it is merely "prejudice" in a disreputable sense akin to racial prejudice or sexism that makes us "discriminate" in favor of our own species. You assume the existence of the universe-wide community of pain and demand reasons why the boundary of our concern should be drawn any more narrowly. I start from the bottom up, with the brute fact that we, like other animals, prefer our own—our own family, the "pack" that we happen to run with (being a social animal), and the larger sodalities constructed on the model of the smaller ones, of which the largest for most of us is our nation. Americans have distinctly less feeling for the pains and pleasures of foreigners than of other Americans and even less for most of the nonhuman animals that we share the world with. Now you may reply that these are just facts about human nature; that they have no normative significance. But they do. Suppose a dog menaced a human infant and the only way to prevent the dog from biting the infant was to inflict severe pain on the dog—more pain, in fact, than the bite would inflict on the infant. You would have to say, let the dog bite (for "if an animal feels pain, the pain matters as much as it does when a human feels pain," provided the pain is as great). But any normal person (and not merely the infant's parents!), including a philosopher when he is not self-consciously engaged in philosophizing, would say that it would be monstrous to spare the dog, even though to do so would minimize the sum of pain in the world. I do not feel obliged to defend this reaction; it is a moral intuition deeper than any reason that could be given for it and impervious to any reason that you or anyone could give against it. Membership in the human species is not a "morally irrelevant fact," as the race and sex of human beings has come to seem. If the moral irrelevance of humanity is what philosophy teaches, and so we have to choose between philosophy and the intuition that says that membership in the human species is morally relevant, then it is philosophy that will have to go." - Animal Rights Debate: Peter Singer vs Richard Posner" Originally Published on Slate magazine. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  32. ^ Posner, Richard (1998). "The Problematics of Moral and Legal Theory". Harvard Law Review. 111 (7): 1637–1717. doi:10.2307/1342477. JSTOR 1342477.
  33. ^ a b c "Animal Rights Debate: Peter Singer vs Richard Posner". Originally Published on Slate magazine. Retrieved May 7, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  34. ^ "Animal Rights" (PDF).
  35. ^ Posner, Richard A. (July 29, 1986). "Goodbye to the Bluebook". The University of Chicago Law Review. 53 (4): 1343–1368. doi:10.2307/1599750. JSTOR 1599750.
  36. ^ Somin, Ilya (2011-01-25) Richard Posner on the Bluebook, Volokh Conspiracy
  37. ^ The Bluebook Blues, 120 Yale L.J. 850 (2011)
  38. ^ Video on YouTube
  39. ^ Judge: Give NSA unlimited access to digital data, December 4, 2014
  40. ^ "Do patent and copyright law restrict competition and creativity excessively?". Richard Posner. September 30, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  41. ^ "The Future of Newspapers". Richard Posner. June 23, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  42. ^ "Judge Thinks Linking To Copyrighted Material Should Be Illegal".
  43. ^ Schonfeld, Erick. "How To Save The Newspapers, Vol. XII: Outlaw Linking – TechCrunch".
  44. ^ "The Social Cost of the Decline of Newspapers?". Gary Becker. June 23, 2009. Archived from the original on June 8, 2010. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
  45. ^ Justin Silverman. "Tell Us, Judge Posner, Who Watches the Watchmen?".
  46. ^ Johnson v. Phelan, 69 F.3d 144, 151 (7th Cir. 1995) (Posner, J., dissenting).
  47. ^ Rating Teachers – Posner
  48. ^ Bell, Kyle. "Appeals Court Judge Calls Indiana's Same-Sex Marriage Ban 'Tradition of Hate'". South Bend Voice. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  49. ^ Posener, September 2, 2002, "The Best Offense", The New Republic (reviewing Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge by Alan M. Dershowitz (Yale University Press))
  50. ^ a b Lattman, Peter (October 6, 2006). "A Paean to the Opinions of the Prolific Judge Posner". The Wall Street Journal Law Blog. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  51. ^ Solow, Robert M. (April 16, 2009). "How to Understand the Disaster". N.Y. Review of Books. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  52. ^ Savage, David G. (November 5, 1997). "High Court Approves Retail Price Ceilings". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  53. ^ Rosenberg, David (2007). "The Judicial Posner on Negligence versus Strict Liability: Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co. v. American Cyanamid Co" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1210. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  54. ^ Sykes, Alan O. (2007). "Strict Liability versus Negligence in Indiana Harbor" (PDF). University of Chicago Law Review. 74: 1911. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  55. ^ Rosenberg, David (2007). "The Judicial Posner on Negligence Versus Strict Liability: Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co. v. American Cyanamid Co.". Harvard Law Review. 120 (5): 1210–1222. JSTOR 40042013.
  56. ^ Goldsmith, Jack L.; Sykes, Alan O. (2007). "Lex Loci Delictus and Global Economic Welfare: Spinozzi v. ITT Sheraton Corp." (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1137. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  57. ^ Shavell, Steven (2007). "On the Proper Magnitude of Punitive Damages: Mathias v. Accor Economy Lodging, Inc." (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1223. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  58. ^ Shugerman, Jed Handelsman (2007). "Affirmative Duties and Judges' Duties: United States v. Stockberger" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1228. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  59. ^ Brewer, Scott (2007). "Satisfaction and Posner's Morin Opinion: Aliquando Bonus Dormitat Posnerus?" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1123. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  60. ^ Ramseyer, J. Mark (2007). "Not-so-Ordinary Judges in Ordinary Courts: Teaching Jordan v. Duff & Phelps, Inc." (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1199. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  61. ^ Henderson, M. Todd (2007). "Deconstructing Duff and Phelps" (PDF). University of Chicago Law Review. 74: 1739. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  62. ^ Suramanian, Guhan (2007). "The Emerging Problem of Embedded Defenses: Lessons from Air Line Pilots Ass'n, International v. UAL Corp." (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1239. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  63. ^ Rakoff, Todd D. (2007). "Good Faith in Contract Performance: Market Associates Ltd. Partnership v. Frey" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1187. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  64. ^ Vermeule, Adrian (2007). "Posner on Security and Liberty: Alliance to End Repression v. City of Chicago" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1263. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  65. ^ Manning, John F. (2007). "Statutory Pragmatism and Constitutional Structure" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1161. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  66. ^ Strauss, David A. (2007). "The Anti-Formalist" (PDF). University of Chicago Law Review. 74: 1885. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  67. ^ Minow, Martha (2007). "Religion and the Burdon of Proof: Posner's Economics and Pragmatism in Metzl v. Leininger" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1175. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  68. ^ Wilkins, David B. (2007). "Partner, Shmartner! EEOC v. Sidley Austin Brown & Wood" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1264. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  69. ^ Levinson, Daryl J. (2007). "Aimster and Optimal Targeting" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1148. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  70. ^ Kagan, Elena (2007). "Richard Posner, the Judge" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 120: 1121. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  71. ^ Lattman, Peter (January 17, 2008). "The Inimitable Judge Posner Strikes Again". The Wall Street Journal Law Blog. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  72. ^ "Project Posner". Lawrence Lessig. October 18, 2006. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  73. ^ Charney, Noah (November 7, 2013). "How I Write: Richard Posner". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  74. ^ MacFarquhar, Larissa (January 10, 2001). "The Bench Burner". The New Yorker.
  75. ^ Janssen, Kim (March 15, 2017). "Cat-loving judge makes case that has nothing to do with cats all about cats". Chicago Tribune.
  76. ^ Greene, Jenna (March 29, 2022). "After Posner retired from 7th Circuit, a grim diagnosis and a brewing battle". Reuters.
  77. ^ Posner, Richard (1978). Antitrust Law: An Economic Perspective. ISBN 0226675580.

Further readingEdit

  • Domnarski, William (2016). Richard Posner. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199332311.
  • Steelman, Aaron (2008). "Posner, Richard A. (1939-)". In Hamowy, Ronald (ed.). Posner, Richard A. (1939– ). The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; Cato Institute. pp. 385–86. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n237. ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4. LCCN 2008009151. OCLC 750831024.

External linksEdit

Legal offices
Preceded by Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Succeeded by