October 27, 2004

Richard Epstein

Listening to University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein is mind-blowing. He speaks in complete, complex, well-organized paragraphs without ever slowing down to search for a word; he never relies on verbal crutches like "um" or "ah." He'll throw in all sorts of parenthetical expressions and subclauses without ever losing track of the main thought or forgetting to complete his parentheticals. Most of us, myself included, rarely speak in complete sentences. I usually only do it when I'm angry, but even then the sentences I speak aren't nearly as complex as Epstein's when he's giving a talk about the law of eminent domain.

Today I heard Epstein talk for the second time in my life (the first was when I was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago). He said a lot of interesting things about the takings clause, eminent domain, and the Kelo v. New London case before the Supreme Court this term. Most of what he said was over my head, or else it came in such a torrent of amazing speech that I can't remember it all. It was a very intense experience.

One thing I do remember was his answer to a question about Richard Posner's recent diatribe against student-edited law reviews. Although I can't convey the warmly humorous context, I'll paraphrase:

"Oh! Why is he doing this? The system works; there are faculty-edited journals out there. . . . I edited one myself! Sure, there's bad editing going on at the law reviews, but that's usually because of one individual editor who's bad, and you find the same thing with bad editors on faculty journals. . . . I'll just take his comments as the offhand thoughts of a very intelligent federal judge."

Posted by Carey at October 27, 2004 09:03 PM