As we give thanks this year, we wondered, what is there to be thankful for in the Seventh Circuit?
Partly it's that we never stop to consider the court beyond its opinions (and partly it's a slow news week in the Seventh). When we crunched the numbers, we found out there was a lot of great stuff happening in the court of appeals that covers Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. Here are just five of them.
1. Judge Richard Posner
The obvious answer is also the best answer. Posner is nominally a Republican, but his opinions aren't wedded to a particular partisan slant. He doesn't go through rhetorical acrobatics to force his opinion through a particular school of legal interpretation "just because." He's also terrifically clear in his writing, using a scholarly-but-conversational style that's accessible. Oh, and he hates the Bluebook, which earns points in my book.
2. Sweet Home Chicago
The "second city" after New York, Chicago, along with the University of Chicago, is synonymous with the Seventh Circuit (Judge Frank Easterbrook only takes law clerks personally recommended to him by the U of Chicago faculty). And did you know the Chicago River flows backwards?
3. Baskin v. Bogan
The Seventh Circuit's same sex marriage opinion, released only nine days after oral arguments, was a swift kick in the face to any remaining arguments that the state has any conceivable interest in prohibiting same sex marriage. Posner sums up the state's pearl-clutching concern for the family: "Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry. Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure."
Chicago gets all the attention, but don't forget about Wisconsin. They have the cheapest beer in the country and the best cheese. But Wisconsin is also home to bratwurst, horseradish, and cranberries. Combine that with some PBR and you have the makings of a great day at the ballpark (or a heart attack).
5. What a Location!
The Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse, where many of the judges are chambered, is your standard-issue boxy high-rise office building. But what's nearby? Basically the entire downtown. Millennium Park, the Chase Auditorium, museums on museums, the symphony, and on and on. You couldn't pick a better place to be.
Of course, these are just some of the great things about the Seventh Circuit. We haven't even hit the great Chicago deep-dish pizza debate.