Scalia and Garner vindicated–Posner not so much

The dispute between Justice Scalia, Professor Garner and Judge Posner about the 2012 Scalia and Garner book Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts became legendary for nerds like me who have no life. I took a nasty poke at all three of them in my “Top Ten” post on legal writing. (Point 9.)  The spat between these three captivated the blogs and swords were drawn on both sides. That controversy died down until very recently.

In response, Professor Garner did something highly unusual.  He hired someone to objectively review the controversy.  The report is now out.

Runs batted in: Scalia and Garner 8 and Posner 1 (with 3 partials leaning Posner).

The author, a highly regarded appellate lawyer (Steven Hirsch), was paid a token fee of $500. He was given free rein to write whatever he believed. There is no reason to think he was biased. Indeed, he said that “I am actually a great admirer of Posner. He is a national treasure. I believe in his brand of legal realism[,]” though Posner should have been “a little more careful” in his criticisms.

Maybe I am credulous, but this effort by Garner strikes me as particularly praiseworthy. It represents a concrete commitment to introspection, humility and intellectual honesty. Scalia and Posner could use a dose of those values (although I deeply admire each of them).

Anyway, good for Bryan Garner.


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