Tone Is Important When Crafting Decisions, Says Law Professor

Judge Richard Posner’s opinion for the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Moore v. Madigan overturned a law that prohibits most Illinois citizens from carrying a concealed handgun in public. Issued a few days before a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at a school Newtown, Conn., the decision contained a “nearly hebephrenic jape,” Epps writes in the Atlantic. The quote that offended Epps: The Second Amendment right “is not a property right—a right to kill a house-guest who in a fit of aesthetic fury tries to slash your copy of Norman Rockwell's painting Santa with Elves."

“I think the decision is wrong on the merits,” Epps writes, “but even if it isn't, it is poorly reasoned and unforgivably flippant in its treatment of what is literally a life-and-death issue in every city and state in the nation.” Moore v. Madigan deals with an issue that is “nobody’s joke” and Posner should have treated “a serious issue seriously,” Epps says.

"Posner has been on the bench now for more than 31 years," Epps says. "As an intellectual, he is sometimes provocative and original, and sometimes slapdash and offensive."


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