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Richard Posner, the celebrated Seventh Circuit judge, has a bone to pick with the Supreme Court. This summer, he raised many hackles by declaring that the Court was "at a nadir," with no "real stars" on the bench since Justice Robert Jackson died in 1954. Just this October, Judge Posner argued, once again, that the Court "is awful," saying that only Justices Ginsburg and Breyer were good enough to sit on the Supreme Court.

Now Posner is back at it, firing another broadside against the Court. In a recently released video, Judge Posner described the Court as "a mediocre institution if ever there was one." He argued that Chief Justice Roberts was a "terrible manager" of the federal court system and criticized the Chief Justice's "stupid" decisions, along with the "terrible opinions" of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Here's something a bit unprecedented: 12 distinguished appellate judges have come together with Bryan Garner to release a "hornbook-style" treatise on the doctrine of judicial precedent. And it's the first such publication in over a century.

Published by Thomson Reuters, the new book covers nine major topics, over 93 sections, surveying how prior judicial decisions influence later ones. (Disclosure: Thomson Reuters is FindLaw's parent company.) It is, as the publisher describes it, an attempt to be "theoretically sound, historically illuminating, and relentlessly practical."

As chaos reigns in Washington, the Supreme Court is experiencing a bit of a lull. There are no arguments this week, no relists, and no interesting orders.

But that relative quiet seems to have given the justices time to reflect on the changes ahead. For some of the justices, that includes a recognition that the Court's vacant seat might soon be filled.

Richard Posner, the Seventh Circuit judge and relative legal celebrity, has been on a bit of rampage lately. This summer, he decried law professors as "refugees from other disciplines," said the posthumous tributes to the Justice Scalia were "absurd," and topped off his rant by declaring that there was no "value to a judge of spending decades, years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, or seconds studying the Constitution".

Now he's back at it, just a few months later. At a recent event, Judge Posner said that the Supreme Court is "awful" and has "reached a real nadir," with "only a couple of the justices" being "qualified." Next thing you know, he'll say the Cubs are worthless, too.

The False Claims Act allows whistleblowers, or 'relators,' to sue contractors who are suspected of fraud in federal contracts. The government can then pick up the suit, or the relator can pursue it herself. In either case, she gets a sizable chunk of any award. But there is a catch. The False Claims Act requires that complaints are filed in camera and kept under seal, with no notice to the allegedly offending contractor. But the act doesn't say what should be done when that seal requirement is broken.

During yesterday's oral arguments, the justices struggled to establish the proper rule. The arguments stem from allegations that State Farm Insurance defrauded the government by misclassifying damage from Hurricane Katrina, forcing the government to cover costs the insurance company should have borne. The company was eventually found liable, but while the suit was still under seal, the whistleblowers' lawyer leaked information about the fraud to the media. That, State Farm argues, should have led to an immediate dismissal of all False Claim Act complaints.

Justice Clarence Thomas celebrated 25 years on the Supreme Court this week. The justice joined the Court a quarter century ago, surviving a bruising nomination battle to become one of the Supreme Court's most consistent conservative voices.

Yet, after so many years on the Court, there is significant debate about Thomas's legacy and his impact on American law. Is he a voice in the wilderness? A herald of jurisprudential changes to come? Just an ineffective eccentric?

Thirty years ago, the Supreme Court decided the case of Batson v. Kentucky, ruling that dismissing potential jurors solely because of their race was unconstitutional and putting one of the first limits on the otherwise unrestrained use of peremptory challenges.

Depending on who you ask, Batson was either a triumph or a farce, a sign of the legal system's commitment to fair trials or a toothless opinion that has been easily evaded. In today's recap of "More Perfect," NPR's Supreme Court podcast, we look back at the people behind Batson and the debate the landmark decision still engenders today.

Whether a Texas inmate lives or dies could depend, in part, on the work of John Steinbeck. In the upcoming term, the Supreme Court will hear the case of Moore v. Texas, a challenge to the sentence of Bobby James Moore, who faces execution for the murder of grocery store clerk, but who also suffers from severe intellectual incapacity.

The case asks the Court to weigh in on the standard Texas uses when deciding if someone's intellectual disability is so extreme as to disqualify them from a death sentence. Moore wants a standard that comports with modern medical understandings. Texas's highest criminal court, however, demanded the use of a more out-dated metric, the so-called "Lennie standard," named after the sweet-natured, but feeble-minded character from Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."

In this week's 'More Perfect' recap, our weekly look into NPR's new Supreme Court podcast, we're looking at the 'imperfect plaintiffs' behind some of the Supreme Court's most important cases.

Actually, we're looking at just two imperfect plaintiffs, John Lawrence and Tyron Garner. That's Lawrence as in Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court case that overturned state bans on sodomy. It's a case that starts with police bursting in on Lawrence and Garner, disrobed in their apartment, and ends with one of the most important gay rights victories ever. It's the case that helped lay the foundation for Windsor and Obergefell a decade later. But the story behind Lawrence might not be what you were expecting.

When the Supreme Court deadlocked on President Obama's immigration reform plan, it marked a major defeat for the president. The four-to-four tie left in place a Fifth Circuit ruling halting Obama's immigration reforms, essentially bringing an end to a program that would have prevented the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants -- and which the president had hoped would be one of his signature achievements.

But less than a month later, the government is asking for a second chance, petitioning for a rehearing once the court gets its ninth justice. Such rehearings are incredibly rare, but they are not unprecedented. To make its case, the government turned to the Court's own history, noting that an equally divided Court had reheard similar cases before -- many from the late 1800's. Hey, precedent is precedent.