The chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, he was the court-appointed mediator for the Microsoft antitrust case.

He was born in New York City in 1939, graduated with an undergraduate English degree from Yale in 1959, and graduated first in his class from Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review. In 1962 he clerked for a year in D.C. with the (liberal) Supreme Court justice William Brennan. In the 1970s he was a law professor at the University of Chicago.

Books that he has written include Economic Analysis of Law (1973), Antitrust Law: An Economic Perspective (1977), The Economics of Justice (1981), Sex and Reason (1992), Aging and Old Age (1995), The Problematics of Moral and Legal (1999), An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton (1999).