Frank Easterbrook

America's most prominent conservative judge offers a blistering assessment of the Supreme Court's most outspoken conservative justice.

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The Constitution in 2020 Edited by Jack M. Balkin and Reva B. Siegel (Oxford University Press, 355 pp., $19.95) There is a genre, the "constitutional manifesto," that sits uneasily between the scholarly or theoretical analysis of constitutional law and the buzzwords of day-to-day constitutional politics. The latter category may be nicely illustrated by the competing slogans of interest groups contesting the Sotomayor nomination: "judicial activism," "empathy," and so on.

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THE CONSTITUTION IN 2020 Edited by Jack M. Balkin and Reva B. Siegel (Oxford University Press, 355 pp., $19.95)   There is a genre, the "constitutional manifesto," that sits uneasily between the scholarly or theoretical analysis of constitutional law and the buzzwords of day-to-day constitutional politics. The latter category may be nicely illustrated by the competing slogans of interest groups contesting the Sotomayor nomination: "judicial activism," "empathy," and so on.

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Good Wood

This piece is from our archives: It was published on May 20, 2009. In March, 2008, Martha Nussbaum, a law professor at the University of Chicago, traveled with Judge Diane Wood to a conference in India. The topic was affirmative action in higher education, and before the conference began, they went to Kolkata to meet women leaders who were gathered to talk about how women should claim their legal rights. "Diane borrowed half of my Indian wardrobe and came in like an Indian woman," Nussbaum recalls.

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Sideshow

Just in time for the presidential election, abortion may be headed again for the Supreme Court. In the wake of lurid hearings in Congress in 1995, 30 states have passed laws banning partial-birth abortion, a politically inflammatory but rarely used procedure. Judges have struck down the bans in two-thirds of the states and haven't interfered in the rest.

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Indecent Exposure

The politics of privacy in America are reactive and sentimental, fired by heart-tugging anecdotes that capture the public imagination. The murder of TV actress Rebecca Schaeffer by an obsessive fan who obtained her address through the department of motor vehicles led Congress to pass the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, which forbids state licensing authorities from releasing the personal information of individuals without their consent.

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Overqualified

Unless a Supreme Court nomination falls from the sky, federal judges are rarely evaluated by cool-eyed critics. And so my heart leapt the other day when Federal Express brought a 126-page report from the Chicago Council of Lawyers reviewing the performances of the fifteen judges on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. But the lawyers have an ax to grind. Their oddest conclusion is that Richard Posner and Frank Easterbrook, two of the most celebrated judges in the country, are in fact two of the least professional judges on the court.

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