That is the question posed in this recent essay/intellectual biography “The Mystery of Richard Posner” by one Corbin K. Barthold, a lawyer in San Francisco. (FYI: Here is a shorter version of Barthold’s essay. Hat tip: The Amazing Tyler Cowen.) For my part, it suffices to say that I reject Barthold’s wishy-washy conclusion that Judge Posner’s legacy is a “mixed” one. During his six-decade career (alas, he is now retired), Judge Posner (pictured below circa 1981, his first year on the bench) wrote 40 books on a wide range of subjects, including aging, justice, and the legal regulation of sex; hundreds of highly-regarded and path-breaking scholarly articles; and (in his role as a judge) over 3000 judicial opinions. But Posner was not only the most prolific–and the most cited–legal scholar and judge of all time; he is also, simply put, one of the greatest legal theorists and thinkers in history, on a par with such historical figures as the great dissenter Oliver Wendell Holmes, the natural law scholar St Thomas Aquinas, and the classical Roman law jurist Gaius. I will make further reflections about Richard Posner’s enormous legacy in a series of future posts in the days ahead.
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