Reagan-appointed Judge Richard Posner is one of the most highly regarded judges in the country. He is one of the few federal court of appeals judges whose decisions are routinely taught in law schools, and possibly the only sitting federal judge to enjoy that status. A pioneer of the conservative law and economics movement, Posner is widely viewed as one of the brightest conservative legal thinkers in the country.
Except that the modern GOP may change that.
Posner expressed admiration for President Ronald Reagan and the economist Milton Friedman, two pillars of conservatism. But over the past 10 years, Posner said, “there’s been a real deterioration in conservative thinking. And that has to lead people to re-examine and modify their thinking.”
“I’ve become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy,” he said.
Posner also warned conservatives that “blasting [Chief Justice] Roberts” for his decision upholding the Affordable Care Act will backfire:
“Because if you put [yourself] in his position … what’s he supposed to think? That he finds his allies to be a bunch of crackpots? Does that help the conservative movement? I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, ‘What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?’ Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position.”
Posner may be right, although it would be a big change for the Chief Justice if he did become more moderate in the face of right-wing attacks. Roberts has shown no problem with hanging around with Posner’s “crowd of lunatics” in the past.