Fear Factor: A Times Critic on Judge Richard Posner's "Chilling Book"

Two law professor/bloggers are not impressed with Kakutani's "arguments" against libertarian Judge Posner's provacative take on liberty in an age of terrorism.

Liberal book critic Michiko Kakutani's review of Judge Richard Posner's latest book, "Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency." Two law professor/bloggers are not impressed.

The headline to the review? "A Jurist's Argument for Bending the Constitution."

"The very language Judge Posner uses in this shrilly titled volume conveys his impatience with constitutional rights, while signaling his determination to deliver a polemical battle cry, not a work of carefully reasoned scholarship."

(That "shrill title" of course is a quote from Supreme Court Justice Robert Jacksonfrom 1949. One presumes Kakutani is aware of that.)

Things don't improve when she hits the substance of Posner's provocative arguments about constitutional rights in an age of terrorism. AsMike Rappaport says, "One or two times Kakutani actually tries to make an argument, but one soon discovers why she avoids this method of persuasion."

Kakutani on Posner: "One result is a depressing relativism in which there are no higher ideals and no absolute rights worth protecting. It is a distinctly cynical outlook that imputes the most mercenary of motives to everyone from journalists to judges: just as Judge Posner has asserted that the media merely pander to the demands of their audiences rather than striving to inform the public, so he suggests in these pages that justices simply 'make up constitutional law as they go along,' following subjective criteria instead of striving to uphold principle and precedent."

Instapundit picks up ona double standard: "ONE VIRTUE OF RICHARD POSNER'S NEW BOOK is that it is causing liberals to appreciate the dangers of a 'living Constitution' approach to an extent never before achieved."

Kakutani summarizes: "By the end of this chilling book, the reader realizes that Judge Posner is willing to use virtually any argument - logical or not - to redefine constitutionally guaranteed rights like freedom of speech during wartime."