World’s ‘most influential legal thinker’ steps down
A witty US judge, who spearheaded a revolution in the economic analysis of law, has retired from the bench.
One of the US’s leading appellate judges, described as the world’s most influential thinker over the last 50 years, has stepped down from the bench. Judge Richard Posner retired after three decades with the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. However, he is also said to have spearheaded a genuine revolution in the economic analysis of law. According to Bloomberg author and contributor Cass Sunstein,who worked with Judge Posner at the University of Chicago: ‘In my view, his greatest contribution has been to spearhead a genuine revolution in both theory and practice: the economic analysis of law.
Economic analysis of law
Mr Sunstein went on to say: ‘It is astounding but true that many of Posner’s contributions have come wholly or mostly from outside of the area of economic analysis of law, with valuable work on (for example) law and literature; on how to deal with catastrophe; on economic crises; on national security threats; and on the federal judiciary itself, and whether it is political, and what it does well and poorly.’ He added that in countless areas of the law, ‘Posner showed that economic analysis casts a new and often surprising light on questions that people might otherwise try to answer with unhelpful intuitions. Actually, he went further: He argued that judges, developing the law of contracts, property and torts by encountering many concrete cases, showed an unmistakable economic logic.’
Judge Posner has written more than 3300 opinions in his time on the bench and in a statement said he was ‘proud to have promoted a pragmatic approach to judging.’ He said he believed judicial opinions should be easy to understand and that judges should focus on the right and the wrong in every case. Judge Posner, who was appointed by President Reagan in 1983, was also known for his wit and dialogue in court.