February 10, 2011
"A grim capitalist logic thus drives the malignant growth of The Bluebook:" Posner has the Bluebook Blues Again
Anyone who has been around awhile knows that Posner has an opinion on just about everything. And why the hell not. He's a brainiac and what he has to say is usually worth the time it takes to read (and understand). He is after all, the founder of the law and economic movement, the only branch of legal scholarship that has had any substantial impact in the real world during the last 30-some years.
Much law blogging fodder has been generated recently because Judge Posner doesn't like the Bluebook. In the Yale Law Review, he writes
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation exemplifies hypertrophy in the anthropological sense. It is a monstrous growth, remote from the functional need for legal citation forms, that serves obscure needs of the legal culture and its student subculture.
OK, so I had to turn to a dictionary to find out what "hypertrophy in the anthropological sense" meant but I've grown accustomed to keeping a dictionary within arm's reach whenever I "read Posner." He adds
I have put my money where my mouth is, metaphorically speaking. I don’t use The Bluebook or any other form book in either my judicial opinions or my academic writings. Journals, and not only law journals, do sometimes impose citation forms on me. But the Federal Reporter does not; nor do the publishers of most of my books. My judicial and academic writings receive their share of criticism, but no one to my knowledge has criticized them for citation form. The reason is that readers are not interested in citation form. Unless the form is outlandish, it is invisible.
So "no one to my knowledge has criticized them for citation form." Well, here's one criticism. No where does this scholar in law and economics makes the argument for vendor-neutral citation formatting. So much for "grim capitalist logic." [JH]
Hello, I am following this blog to inform myself about current law librarianship issues while performing an independent study for my library science degree. I appreciate all of the great posts, but I do wonder why contributors don't check their postings for obvious grammatical errors. A good argument in any situation is diluted by poor presentation. Okay, I am off my high horse (or llama, perhaps, as per my new student support group, LLAMA--Law Librarianship Meetings, Activities and Awareness, through which I plan to increase the interest of this career path among my fellow graduate students). Mike Naylon
Posted by: Mike Naylon | Feb 10, 2011 5:18:52 PM
The "Blue Book" is worse than the Infernal Revenue Code. The worst aspect is that it contains no COMPLETE examples of what citations are supposed to look like. There is an argument for consistent citations forms, however. Consistency provides clarity and removes ambiguity and confusion.
For help trying to understand this book, I recommend the following:
> "User's Guide to the Blue Book," Alan L. Dworsky, Fred B. Rothman Publications, Littleton, Colorado, available from William S. Hein & Co., Inc.
> "Legal Writing Citation," Larry L. Teply, Thomson West, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Posted by: John Hightower | Feb 10, 2011 7:48:28 AM