Judge Posner has a brilliant article in the Yale Law Journal slamming The Bluebook–in his felicitious phrasing, “a monstrous growth, remote from the functional need for legal citation form.” Hat tip to Eugene Volokh and Ilya Somin, who discuss the article at the Volokh Conspiracy.
I commend Posner’s piece to you. It is short. It is hilarious. I cannot improve on anything he’s written. I wish I could argue that The Bluebook is not a tumor. (Go on, click that last link.) But I can’t. If you have a minute sometime, hit up The Bluebook‘s website, and gaze in horror at is gruesome metamorphosis from a reasonable, 26-page citation guide in the 1926 1st edition to the incomprehensible 511-page absurdity that is the 19th edition.
To illustrate The Bluebook‘s “obsession with abbreviations,” Posner has fun with some of the guide’s more obscure short forms, and that’s a fair point. (“What does ‘C.Ag.’ stand for? Why, of course, the Codigo de Aguas of Brazil.”) But even the normal abbreviations can get kind of silly. Quick, what does “Rest.” mean? If you said “restatement,” you’re wrong. It’s “restaurant.” T.6. And “Tr.”–trial, transcript, or trustee? Or all 3? Who cares?
Interestingly, Posner himself doesn’t follow The Bluebook. He uses his own citation form, which is appended to the article. (No parallel citations!) He can do that, because he’s Richard Posner. He could probably, if he tried, also get away with coming to court without any pants. I cannot. But he is so clearly right on this point–The Bluebook, not the pants–that I am willing to follow the Posner citation manual for a month . . . and to see if anyone notices.