Saturday, September 03, 2005

Screwup #2 Judge Richard Posner

Richard Posner is Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago. A prolific scholar and public intellectual, as well as an influtential judge, he earns his place as Screwup #2 for his role in creating the doctrine that the government has no duty to rescue its citizens from harm.
Early in his career, Posner published an article arguing that it would be "inefficient" in an economic sense to make people liable for walking past a drowning man. Even really good swimmers.
See,William M. Landes & Richard A. Posner, Salvors, Finders, Good Samaritans, and Other Rescuers:An Economic Study of Law and Altruism, 7 J. LEGAL STUD. 83 (1978) (arguing that imposing liability for failure to rescue would be economically
inefficient).
Then, when he was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals, he got a chance to put his theory into practice, writing the enormously influential opinion for the court, then affirmed by the Supreme Court, in DeShaney v. Winnebago, the case where the County Welfare Department sent a boy, Joshua DeShaney, back to his abusive father, who beat him until he was forever retarded. Not liable, said Posner, we cannot have the government responsible for the well-being of its subjects. Where will it all stop?
Although the Supreme Court affirmed Posner's reasoning, the case generated the legendary dissent by Justice Blackmun, which begins. "Poor Joshua!"
Poor Joshua, indeed. And all the people locked into the Superdome while Bush fiddles are the heirs of Richard Posner's fertile mind.

1 Comments:

Blogger phinky said...

What is happening to my country? It moves me to tears.

12:50 PM  

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