Can our "Old" U. S. Constitution guide us in solving current legal problems? Watch Berkowitz w/Judge Posner: Cable/Web

7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner: … old documents [such as the U. S. Constitution] are not going to tell you how to deal with new problems.  

The Public Affairs show, featuring Judge Posner in Part 1  of a two part series, airs tonight throughout the City of Chicago at 8:30 pm and midnight, on Cable Ch. 21 [CAN TV] (Comcast, RCN or WOW).

Show host Jeff Berkowitz debates and discusses important legal, judicial  and constitutional issues with Judge Posner relating to the life and times of 7th Circuit Court of Appeals federal judge Richard Posner– as well as his most recent book.

You can also watch the show w/ Judge Posner 24/7 by clicking here.

Judge Posner, a President Reagan appointee who has drifted from conservative to self-described moderate, has sat on the appellate court for 35 years, writing more than 3200 judicial opinions.

Prior to coming on the bench, Judge Posner was a University of Chicago Law School Professor for a dozen years, and he has continued to teach at the UChicago Law School while a judge.

He has now written more than 40 books, 300 articles and book reviews covering a broad range of subject areas, including, but not limited to law, economics,sex, judging, technology, public policy, law and economics and politics.

Key aspects of Judge Posner’s most recent book, “Divergent Paths, the Academy and Judiciary,” are discussed and debated in tonight’s show.

An important theme of the book is that legal formalism, or the traditional approach to law involving applications of precedents, legal reasoning, the common law, statutes and the Constitution to the problem at hand, is what law schools teach.  Yet, most judges, say some, like Judge Posner, decide cases based on legal realism, which is essentially the application of a common sense fairness doctrine, incorporating the judges’ priors–covering such things as their politics, religion, approaches to life and various personality traits– to the facts at hand.

Also discussed with Judge Posner are other aspects of the divergent paths between the Judiciary and the Academy, including the abstract nature of most law schools and their professors and the irrelevance of what those professors do and teach for the practice of law.

Show host Berkowitz and Judge Posner also debate whether Judges interpret the Constitution or create constitutional doctrines which many lawyers and judges then treat as “The Constitution,” but is really a judge created constitution.

Part 2 of the two show series with Judge Posner airs next week on “Public Affairs.”

You can also watch the second show with Judge Posner by clicking here.

Quips from tonight’s show and scheduled airings of “Public Affairs” in other geographic areas are listed below:

Judge Posner: The only reference to warrants in the 4th amendment is to place restrictions on [warrants]. There is nothing to say that you have to have a warrant- ever.


Judge Posner: Being a trial lawyer, being a judge, being a government official dealing with legal issues,  there are a lot of jobs for which you need information and those skills for which you are not well trained by law schools.


Posner: The simplest way for the law schools to change[for the better] would be to hire a significant number of law school professors [coming right] out of practice…people who had practiced law, maybe they were judges, got tired of judging, wanted to do something else, and those are people with very different experiences from [the current hires].

Jeff Berkowitz: Would the ratings [of those law schools] go down from U. S. News and World Report because wouldn’t these people be less apt to publish? Fewer publications, [therefore] they get lower rankings, right?

Judge Posner: Yes

Berkowitz: And U. S. News doesn’t give the law schools any credit for bringing in teachers who would be better at training the students to be better litigators and trial lawyers, right?

Judge Posner: I think that’s true, I’m not-


University of Chicago Law School Senior Lecturer Posner: [If I were Chief Justice Roberts and If some federal appeals court judges were not being collegial], I would bring them to Washington, D.C.…chew them out and that would be the end of [the lack of cordiality among the judges on that circuit].

Berkowitz: And Chief Justice John Roberts [who is head of the entire U.  S. Judiciary] never does that?

Judge Posner: No.

Berkowitz: Nobody has ever done that as Chief Justice?

Judge Posner: Not in modern times.

Jeff Berkowitz: Not Chief Justice Rehnquist, nor Berger?

Judge Posner: No, although I think in the old days they got along better.


Judge Posner: That was the end of the spittoon. Except the U. S. Supreme Court and Congress have these stupid spittoons. Now, I don’t like this [old] stuff


Berkowitz: The 4th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution does basically say that if you are going to do a search or seizure, it has to be reasonable, and you are saying that is fairly empty?

Judge Posner: Yes.

Jeff Berkowitz: In terms of providing guidance [as to what is permissible]

University of Chicago Law School Senior Lecturer Posner: That’s right.

Jeff Berkowitz: And, that is your criticism…of [legal] formalism? It is that there is no real guidance as to how to resolve problems, would that be right?

University of Chicago Law School Senior Lecturer Posner: Yes, old documents [such as the U. S. Constitution] are not going to tell you how to deal with new problems.


The Public Affairs show also airs:

Tonight and Wednesday night in Evanston at 8:30 pm on ECTV-6 (Comcast)

–Tomorrow night in 24 N and NW Chicago Metro Suburbs (Comcast) at 8:30 pm on:

—–Cable Ch. 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, parts of Inverness, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette and on

—–Cable Ch. 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.

Tonight, Wed. and Sat. night in Aurora, 6 pm on ACTV-10 [Aurora Community TV] (Comcast)

Thursday night in Rockford, 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 17 (Comcast)

Next week on Monday and Wednesday night in 9 North Shore suburbs including Highland Park, Highwood, Deerfield, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Lincolnshire, Bannockburn, Ft. Sheridan and Winnetka at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 19 (Comcast)


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