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Federal Judge: “Absolutely no value” in studying Constitution

U.S. Constitution

A federal judge has said he believes studying the Constitution has “absolutely no value,” despite having a job where he makes rulings based on constitutionality.

Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner, who is also a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, wrote for Slate about his reasoning for why people — even judges — shouldn’t study the Constitution. Posner said that because the Constitution was created so long ago, it’s not relevant and it doesn’t have a place in contemporary society.

“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),” Posner wrote. “Eighteenth-century guys, however smart, could not foresee the culture, technology, etc., of the 21st century. The original Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the post–Civil War amendments (including the 14th), do not speak to today.”

Posner also criticizes the Supreme Court, saying that he doesn’t think “there are any real stars among them” and he says that law professors are too respectful of the Supreme Court because they don’t want to ruin the chances of their students obtaining Supreme Court clerkships.

Posner also says that the late Justice Antonin Scalia received too much praise after he passed away.

Bold statements appear to run in the Posner family. Judge Posner’s son, Eric, a law professor at the University of Chicago, was criticized last year for saying that colleges have the right to limit free speech and the behavior of their students. He also complained that colleges have been treating children like adults. It seems that Eric doesn’t place much importance on the Constitution, either.

Judge Posner was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and had a reputation of being politically conservative, although he said in 2012 that the GOP has made him less conservative since they started “acting goofy.” In recent years, Judge Posner has ruled more liberally when deciding on laws related to abortion and same-sex marriage.


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