Felix Frankfurter on delusional judges

Frankfurter was a Supreme Court justice in the early 20th century. He was not fond of the kinds of decisions judges were making in the so-called Lochner era. In that era, the Supreme Court and lesser courts regularly struck down laws that contravened laissez-faire economic institutions, holding that such laws were unconstitutional. The courts in that era appeared to be informed by the notion that laissez-faire contract law institutions were required by some kind of natural law of humanity, a nonsense notion through and through.

Frankfurther said of these judges:

Judges continue to indulge “the illusion of mathematical certainty” and to think they they are, like silkworms, unfolding “law” from the legal cocoon. In fact they are but translating their own unconscious economic prejudices or assumptions.

What’s sad is that modern-day conservatives, even those with big platforms, still basically play this game. While most philosophers and legal experts abandoned natural law delusions for positivism long ago, I read conservatives almost every day who act as if their preferred institutions are natural and default, and that they are simply against intrusions/interventions/distortions upon that natural order. It’s sad to read because it’s so intellectually bankrupt, but sadder still because it is mobilized in support of programs that lead to massive amounts of totally avoidable human misery.