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He has written many articles and books on a wide range of topics including law and economics, law and literature, the federal judiciary, moral theory, intellectual property, antitrust law, public intellectuals, and legal history.
His analysis of the Lewinsky scandal cut across most party and ideological divisions.
He was a founding editor of The Journal of Legal Studies in 1972.
Posner was mentioned in 2005 as a potential nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor because of his prominence as a scholar and an appellate judge. Boynton wrote in The Washington Post that he believed Posner would never sit on the Supreme Court because despite his "obvious brilliance," he would be criticized for his occasionally "outrageous conclusions," such as his contention "that the rule of law is an accidental and dispensable element of legal ideology," his argument that buying and selling children on the free market would lead to better outcomes than the present situation, government-regulated adoption, and his support for the legalization of marijuana and LSD. The twelve posts—collectively titled "Posner on Posner"—began on November 24, 2014 and ended on January 5, 2015 and appeared on the Concurring Opinions blog.
He recognizes the philosophical force of arguments for animal rights, but maintains that human intuition about the paramount value of human life makes it impossible to accommodate an ethic of animal rights.
Posner engaged in a debate with the philosopher Peter Singer in 2001 at Slate magazine, in which Posner argued against restricting the use of animals for food and in scientific experimentation.
On September 1, 2017, Posner announced that he was retiring from the Seventh Circuit, effective the following day. He then attended the Harvard Law School, graduating in 1962 with an LL. magna cum laude as the valedictorian of his class and president of the Harvard Law Review. Brennan of the United States Supreme Court during the 1962–63 term, he served as Attorney-Advisor to Federal Trade Commissioner Philip Elman; he would later argue that the Federal Trade Commission ought to be abolished.
After finishing high school, Posner attended Yale University, graduating in 1959 with an A. In 1969, Posner moved to the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School, where he remains a Senior Lecturer.