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Epstein Thrashes Rubenfeld on Natural Law; Panel on Redistribution of Wealth

I would swear that I saw, for the first time ever, outright anger in Prof. Epstein’s face the first time I watched this clip. Never mind, you can hear it in his voice as he gives Yale Law School’s Prof. Jed Rubenfeld a concise and pithy jolly what-for for a**-hattery.

This is the final 5:48 of a panel discussion described as below. The whole thing is quite interesting. Steve Forbes also seems to have some understanding of what’s what. Andy Stern of the infamous SEIU brings along his flag and his violin. And the odious Prof Rubenfeld is…well, odious. Although his question in Part 11 is one we all get asked a lot, and I’m glad to have Prof. E.’s response.

Best part first. The series begins with Part 1, below Part 11 here. I think you can just click through the segments from there.


Uploaded on Nov 17, 2009

The Federalist Society presented this panel discussion on Redistribution of Wealth at the 2009 National Lawyers Convention on Thursday, November 12, 2009. Panelists included Prof. Richard A. Epstein of New York University Law School; Mr. Steve Forbes, Chairman and CEO of Forbes Inc. and Editor of Forbes Magazine; Prof. Jed Rubenfeld of Yale Law School; Mr. Andrew L. Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union; and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit as the moderator. Part 11 of 11

The whole thing is very much worth seeing, highly recommended, and be sure you have your kidney basin at the ready for Prof. Rubenfeld’s first appearance:


  1. Paul Marks says:

    It is time that Professor Epstein showed controlled righteous anger.(controlled and righteous in Aristotelian fashion) .

    We are not facing well meaning people struggling to find the truth – the enemies of Great Tradition of thought are not well meaning, not well meaning at all.

  2. Julie near Chicago says:


  3. eb says:

    Wow, Epstein is a fabulous speaker! His mind seems to running so fast that his mouth is trouble keeping up, but he is still 100% coherent in his arguments. Very impressive.

    And he shat all over Rubenfeld.

  4. Julie near Chicago says:

    Later this evening there will be a podcast on the Lochner case. Right now I am interrupting my fourth or fifth viewing of this abortion of Rubenfeld’s, Part 1 around 6:35 or so, to register outrage at the intellectual dishonesty (or downright stupidity, which could equally be the case I suppose, Yale Law notwithstanding).

    Having started with the assertion that the trees are on land owned by the Gov, and that therefore the Gov has the right to set its terms for the logging company to fell the Govt.’s trees, he pretends (I’m too enraged to allow the stupidity excuse) that the taking of some percentage of X’s money taken in payment for a condominium sold is precisely analogous, so of course this latter taking is not “redistribution” either. Children, hands over your ears now, Mommy is going to use bad language.


    Where in the H-E-doubletoothpicks did the Gov acquire ownership! of the seller’s payment for the sale, so that it has a right to hang onto part of it for itself, and then have the CHUTZPAH to claim it has this right UNDER CONTRACT, which is the premise smuggled into the argument by alleged analogy! Yes, we condominium sellers in NYC do know that them’s the rules of the game, so either finagle a way out of the tax by hard or soft corruption, or pony up. That’s not a contract, it’s a guy standing next to Joe Salesman, who on pain of any of several unpleasant results if he doesn’t comply, allows the guy to take the $ received from the customer and give back some portion of it to Joe.

    If people want to argue for (sales, or any other) tax on some sort of utilitarian or compassionate or economic grounds let them do so, but at least be honest about what’s being done and the reasoning validating it. As Prof. E. is in his presentation :>( .

    Sorry, I’m calm now. Let’s continue with the video.

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