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A Lost Episode of “Meeting of the Minds”: Posner, Kelman, Holmes, and Pascal

  • Paul J. Heald


Set: Four wooden high-backed chairs arranged two to each side of a simple oak desk upon which sits a water canister, ashtray, copies of The Hidden God (by Lucien Goldman, Thody Translation 1964), Economic Analysis of Law (by Richard Posner, 3d. Ed. 1986), The Plague (by Albert Camus), Les Lettres Provinciales (by Blaise Pascal), and several volumes of the Supreme Court Reporter.

Scene One: Mr. Allen enters first, carrying a sheaf of photocopied papers, and sits behind the desk. Next enter Mr. Posner, Mr. Pascal, Mr. Holmes, and Mr. Kelman all carrying similar papers. Holmes and Posner take seats to Allen's right; Kelman and Pascal seat themselves to Allen's left.

Mr. Allen: Gentlemen, I would like to thank you for coming. I know that Mr. Pascal has had an especially difficult trip. I myself just flew in from the coast, and boy are my arms tired (polite chuckles from Posner and Kelman).



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1. In the 1960's and 70's Steve Allen produced occasional television programs featuring panel discussions as they might have occurred among four historical figures who had lived at different times and who had developed insights into a specific problem. The show was called “Meeting of the Minds.” I have borrowed Allen's format in developing this piece— unfortunately his genius is less easy to imitate..

2. 86 Mich. L. Rev. 827 (1988).

3. 10 Harv. L. Rev. 457 (1897).

4. Kelman, M., A Guide to Critical Legal Studies (1988).

5. Pascal, B., Pensees (Collier 1960) (Trotter Trans.) The fragments will be cited following the numbering system established by Leon Brunschvieg. Hereinafter, citations will be to fragment with an accompanying number.

6. Goldmann, , The Hidden God, 171.

7. Goldmann, , The Hidden God, 183.

8. Fragment 294, supra note 5.

9. Fragment 385, supra note 5.

10. Fragment 299, supra note 5.

11. Fragment 294, supra note 5.

12. Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616 (1919).

13. Fragment 139, supra note 5.

14. See Posner, , Economic Analysis of Law, 101–05 (3d ed. 1986).

15. Id. at 101.

16. Levi, E., An Introduction to Legal Reasoning (1949).

17. Fragment 297, supra note 5.

18. Posner, , Economic Analysis of Law, 2526, (3d ed. 1986).

* Assistant Professor of Law, University of Georgia. A.B. 1980, University of Illinois; A.M. 1982, University of Illinois; J.D. 1988, University of Chicago. I would like to thank Albert Alschuler, Greg Mark, Sean Smith, and Vanessa Sciarra for their encouragement and very helpful comments. I am also grateful for early guidance provided by Michael Palencia-Roth, Robert Nelson, and the Program for Comparative Literature Studies at the University of Illinois. Finally, I would like to thank the Hon. Frank M. Johnson, Jr. for a personal lesson that law can be more than politics.


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