Federal judges have been known to wax poetic on a topic, and even go on long rants about the process, which can make for some pretty ironic reading.
So, in the spirit of the year's end, here are the top three most twisted things to come out of the Article III courts in 2013:
1. 'The Court Agrees With Justice Scalia' = Gay Marriage
Nothing could be more hilarious than U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby stating that he "agrees with Justice Scalia" (see page 13) and in the same legal breath, striking down Utah's gay marriage ban as unconstitutional.
One might argue -- and we certainly have -- that this is a pretty fair karmic comeuppance for Justice Scalia's tenure on the bench as SCOTUS' resident wiseacre. But it's also incredibly ironic in the face of Scalia's ultra-conservative views. So from Lawrence to Utah marrying same-sex couples, let's call "agreeing" with Justice Scalia a rare ironic treat.
2. 'Judges Don't Know Enough'
Always nice to see a federal judge with a good sense of humility ... or at least lack of inhibition. The Seventh Circuit's Judge Richard Posner is a font of quotable statements, but this particular one strikes us as hi-larious:
"We judges and lawyers, we don't know enough about the subject matters that we regulate, right? And that if the lawyers had provided us with a lot of information about the abuse of voter identification laws, this case would have been decided differently."
Judge Posner was referring to the Seventh Circuit's decision in Crawford v. Marion County, a 2007 case which upheld voter ID laws in Indiana and was affirmed by SCOTUS.
Guess this is the closest Posner gets to "my bad."
3. This Is Just Like 'Chicago'
The D.C. Circuit really has a strained relationship with just about every regulatory agency in Washington, but you know what they love? Musicals! Writing the majority opinion for the D.C. Circuit in National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners v. U.S. Dept. of Energy, Judge Laurence Silberman wrote:
"This presentation reminds us of the lawyer's song in the musical, 'Chicago,' - 'Give them the old razzle dazzle.'"
The court was referring of course to "Razzle Dazzle" from the musical "Chicago," in which the defendant's charlatan lawyer explains how he can fool the court and the jury with flashy gimmicks and distractions.
We found this funny for two reasons: 1) the court found the government's arguments about their budget to be so ridiculous that it resorted to this reference and 2) imagining Judge Silberman or the panel humming "Razzle Dazzle" or even "Cell Block Tango" during oral arguments.
Maybe the courts just like to let their hair down ... on paper. Let's hope for more of these twisted moments in 2014.
- The End of 2013 Is Nigh: 10 Inspirational Quotes for Attorneys (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- 5 Funny Terms Only Federal Judges Use (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- 7 Quotes to Get You Through the Bar Exam (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- The Great Dissenter: Top 5 Scalia Quotes from the Other Side (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog)