Frank H. Easterbrook (b. 1948 ) is the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and one of the most frequently cited authorities in the United States. He, along with his former colleague Judge Richard Posner, are leaders of the "Law and Economics" movement associated with the Chicago School of Economics.
Judge Easterbrook has unique, conversational writing style that is punctuated by short, blunt statements like these in his opinion in the Compact Clause case of Illinois v. City of Chicago, 137 F.3d 474, 476, 478 (7th Cir. 1998):
|“|| What an odd duck this case is.
A graduate of Swarthmore (1970) and the University of Chicago Law School (1973), he clerked on the court of appeals then worked for the Justice Department under Nixon, Ford and Carter, becoming Deputy Solicitor General, in the office that handles Supreme Court issues. He called for a color-blind decision in the Bakke case in 1977. Appointed to the University of Chicago Law School Faculty, he collaborated with economists and wrote numerous important books and articles on the use of economics in the law.
Appointed by President Ronald Reagan, Judge Easterbrook has served on that bench since 1985, while also serving on the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School. Judge Easterbrook was also an editor of the influential Journal of Law and Economics from 1982 to 1991.
He authored the panel decision in NRA v. City of Chicago, which declined to apply the protections of the Second Amendment against restrictions on gun ownership imposed by the City of Chicago. That decision was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
He also authored the panel decision in Jones v. Harris Associates, in which he upheld enormous fees paid to investment advisers by mutual funds on the rationale that the free market can best determine such fees. Judge Richard Posner dissented from a motion for the entire Seventh Circuit to rehear this case en banc, stating that corporate culture has proven incapable of curbing excessive compensation. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case, and unanimously reversed the panel decision.