[W]e consider first two of this Court’s key decisions: Bouie v. City of Columbia, 378 U. S. 347 (1964), and Rogers v. Tennessee, 532 U. S. 451 (2001)...This made me curious about the expression "a far cry." This is one of these expressions that we use because it has a metaphorical feeling, even though we don't think too concretely about what the metaphor is. (This is what George Orwell called a "dying metaphor" in his famous essay "Politics and the English Language.") What is the image in "far cry"? I picture Lancaster, Bouie, and Rogers standing on hilltops in a landscape and see Lancaster — it's Burt Lancaster, by the way — hollering over to Rogers and Bouie on their respective hilltops, and Rogers can easily hear him but Bouie can barely hear him. That's a colorful alternative to saying Lancaster is much closer to Rogers than to Bouie.
This case is a far cry from Bouie, where, unlike Rogers, the Court held that the retroactive application of a judicial decision violated due process....
Let's whip out the out the old (and unlinkable) Oxford English Dictionary:
within cry of: within calling distance. a far cry : a long way, a very long distance.The ascidian — I had to look it up — is a sea squirt, and it's not yelling out to bookbinding and blue china, so this metaphor has been dying since at least 1885.
1632 W. Lithgow Totall Disc. Trav. (1682) ix. 396 Villages and Houses..each one was within cry of another.
1819 Scott Legend of Montrose iv, in Tales of my Landlord 3rd Ser. IV. 72 One of the Campbells replied, ‘It is a far cry to Lochow’; a proverbial expression of the tribe, meaning that their ancient hereditary domains lay beyond the reach of an invading enemy.
1850 Tait's Edinb. Mag. Feb. 75/1 In those days, it was a ‘far cry’ from Orkney to Holyrood; nevertheless the ‘cry’ at length penetrated the royal ear.
1885 Athenæum 18 Apr. 498/3 It is a far cry from the ascidian to bookbinding and blue china, yet it is a cry that can be achieved by Mr. Lang.