Blawgletter confesses that we sometimes post a precis of court opinions before we read them start-to-finish.  But we do so to get the news out pronto for our dear subscribers and browsers.  Plus we include a link to the opinions that readers may reach their own conclusions.

So what excuse does Richard A. Epstein have for his op-ed piece today about Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, No. 05-1126 (U.S. May 21, 2007) (Blawgletter posts here and here)?  In Twombly, the Court disavowed a half-century-old standard for assessing complaints and ordered dismissal of one that the 7-2 Court believed failed to allege a plausible antitrust conspiracy.  U. Chicago professor and Hoover Institute fellow Epstein boiled the ruling down to "ending the class-action extortion racket."  Really?

No, not really.  Not really at all.

Any lawyer worth his salt wouldn’t sally forth with such a claim unless he’d at least digested the opinion of which he speaks.  Mr. Epstein, on the other hand, couldn’t get even the case name right; he calls it "Twombly v. Bell Atlantic", reversing the parties’ names.  No big deal, right?  But he ends by proposing "limitations on discovery" as panacea — a solution that the Court explicitly rejected, calling it "no answer" adding that discovery limitations "cannot" solve the problem.

We may infer that Mr. Epstein wrote his op-ed on the fly and with hopes of sustaining his notoriety as legal scholar.  But will he — or the WSJ — pay the price in credibility for their sloppiness?  We can only hope.

Barry Barnett

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