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Sotomayor’s gun law position (cf Frank Easterbrook)

  • June 9th, 2009

In 1992 I spent several magical months at the University of Chicago Law School. I vaguely intended to write up while there my theory of the source of premiums on a takeover.  

In the result that project could not compete with interesting workshops, lunches and lectures to attend.  Among those met over lunch was Frank Easterbrook, a Reagan appointed Federal Circuit Judge. He’d shortly before published a book (with Fischel) on Corporate Law, and he remained an active teacher,

He was immediately sceptical of my theory – that the size of the premium would  positively correlate with the inadequacy in enforcement of law against controlling shareholder looting – i.e. that it could be a reflection of the weakness or strength of a jurisdiction’s fiduciary principles). I was discouraged, till he called a week later and suggested meeting at 7pm to go over it again.

We spent an hour and a half. I was amazed that a nationally renowned academic and judge would give that kind of time to a deservedly unknown lawyer (not even a published academic) from New Zealand. In the result he was encouraging, but I needed to find an economics researcher  to test the theory empirically. That killed the project for the time being, and I’ve moved on to other interests in law.

But I’ve sporadically checked up on Easterbrook’s judicial career.

Now he’s cited to balance a criticism of Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. One of her judgments, said to show her ‘liberal’ (left) orientation, held that the 2nd amendment right to bear arms did not necessarily trump restrictive State gun law even though it defeats Federal law. It turns out that she shares that opinion with Frank Easterbrook. Frank decided that it would be judicial activism for his level of court to extend the Federal law position to the States.  If it is to be done it must be by the Supreme Court.

As the question seems now to be headed to the Supreme Court, Sotomayor could get the chance to answer it.

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