January 30, 2008

"Kennedy is well known in the court's press corps for never using 1,000 words when 5,000 words would more murkily murk his murk."

James Kilpatrick is sick of Supreme Court cases and he's not going to write about them anymore.

(Via How Appealing.)

6 comments:

MadisonMan said...

So Kennedy is as verbose as cedarford?

Simon said...

MM - not only is he worse than Cedarford, but unlike Cedarford, you have to actually read what Kennedy says - all the more so now he essentially decides how nine out of ten, nineteen out of twenty cases turns out. Mushy prose for mushy ideas.

There's a lovely article in the current edition of the 7th Circuit Bar's journal discussing legal writing styles and exhorting people to consider borrowing from the "impure" style practiced by (among others) Easterbrook, Posner, and Kozinski. Perhaps we should send it (and a copy of Posner's mid-90s article on the same subject) to the Kennedy chambers.

former law student said...

Aren't their opinions drafted by their clerks? Sandra Day O'Connor's writing style allegedly changed with each clerk. What Kennedy, et al., most likely need are clerks who think and write more clearly.

Kilpatrick leaves out the point of the decision: Congress cannot rely on context to limit the meaning of "any". Any "any" buried in a section dealing with a single subject (here, customs and excise), will be interpreted to apply in all circumstances.

Iapetus said...

I got the impression from reading other on-line articles that the debate in this case focussed on the placement and significance of a comma (!) in the written statute, and the possible implications of what the Court's opinion might then presage about its thinking on the unrelated case regarding the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution that is now before the SCOTUS. This would give the case of the missing prayer rug much broader significance.

Ralph said...

I thought Kilpatrick had died years ago. 87 and still putting out coherent essays.

Simon said...

Iapetus - no. It had more to do with the reach of the word "any" in the context of 28 U.S.C. § 2680(c).