Henry Manne: a man to remember.

Author:Epstein, Richard A.
Position:Biography
 
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There is no end to the superlatives that can be heaped upon the late Henry G. Manne for an academic career that spanned more than sixty years, from the day that he graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1952 until his death at the age of eighty-six in January 2015. Henry Manne, the American Spectator informs us, "was law & economics" (Buckley 2015). That pithy description would have pleased Henry. He was not a man who tolerated nuances in argument. He was a man who loved hyperbole, especially when it was directed toward himself. Indeed, I think that it can be said that Henry was the embodiment of yet another maxim that speaks so well of his character: better to be attacked than ignored. The last thing that Henry wanted in life was to be passed by in silence. Right or wrong, it was good to be noticed. And if that attention could be gotten by strong academic arguments or by bold educational initiatives, so much the better.

Henry, of course, excelled in both directions. And in both he had the benefit of perfect timing. Henry was born in 1928, and he came of intellectual age during the mid-1950s. It is fair to say that the standard methods of legal analysis were ripe--not to be too delicate--for a hostile takeover. The dominant intellectual trope of that time was fealty to a "reasoned elaboration" of established principles within the well defined confines of the legal system, which had made itself comfortable with the responsible implementation of the post-New Deal state.

If I had to pick one course from that period that reflected the impulse of the time, it would not be antitrust as taught by Aaron Director and Edward Levi. That would have been a marginal enterprise of the sort that attracted Henry Manne, who may well have taken the course as a University of Chicago law student. But the main game in town at that time was the Henry M. Hart Jr. and Albert M. Sacks materials on legal process (Hart and Sacks 1994), which featured as its opening problem "The Case of the Spoiled Cantaloupes." Hart was one of the giants of federal jurisdiction, and Sacks went on to be an embattled dean of Harvard Law School. The large intellectual movements of the day concentrated on the lawyer as a handmaiden to unwinding commercial transactions that, like the cantaloupes, had gone sour. The most speculative writing at the time, captured in the H. L. A. Hart-Lon Fuller debate on the relationship between natural and positive law, was the jurisprudential twin of the legal process materials. The law and economics of private markets and government agencies lay firmly in a future that came more rapidly than anyone at the time could have predicted.

And one of the movers of that shift was Henry Manne. The cautious intellectual incrementalism of the 1950s did not sit well with Henry, who...

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