Bryan Garner’s letter repeats criticisms by the National Review blogger Ed Whelan, a former Scalia law clerk who is the head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an extreme conservative think tank preoccupied with homosexuality (which Whelan believes is destroying the American family), abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and other affronts to conservative theology.Why is that a good way to begin the response? Garner's essay ends:
Edward Whelan has demanded that Judge Posner run a prominent retraction and apology. That would be gratifying, since reputations can be marred by such a high‑profile literary rampage. But I’m not holding my breath.It's a dispute about the methodology of legal interpretation, but it's devolved into something that seems oddly personalized.
Garner also makes the argument: Stanley Fish liked our book:
In the New York Times (7-16-2012), Stanley Fish—whose work we cite negatively four times, by the way — praised Reading Law “for making complicated and sometimes arcane points of doctrine seem accessible and even plain.” That was indeed our goal.As if Posner would stand down because Fish offered the blandest of praise.
Fish did praise it — in a review in which he also said that the book’s “thesis that textualism is the one mode of legal interpretation that avoids subjectivity and the intrusion into the judicial realm of naked political preferences” is wrong.
Here's the book — "Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts." Who is it for? Even the Kindle edition costs $40. I won't pay that much for a book that seems to be re-explaining a very familiar theory, even if it has lots of examples to make things super-clear. I tend to suspect that the clarity is achieved at the expense of honesty about what is really happening in the cases. Note that Fish said the book made complicated matters "seem accessible and even plain." "Seem" is the operative word.