His lyrics are as profound today as they were fifty years ago, and Dylan has become the most prominent legal muse for Judges and legal scholars.
Professor Alex Long from the University of Tennessee scoured legal databases for the year 2007 and found that Bob Dylan’s lyrics were cited in Reasons for Judgment 186 times, compared to 74 for the Beatles and 69 for Bruce Springsteen.
Several appellate judges in California have said “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowin’ ” from the song “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, in reference to the fact that an expert isn’t required to offer an opinion when any layperson could discern the facts.
Even the United States Supreme Court has relied on Dylan’s lyrics to make a point. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. quoted Dylan’s line “If you ain’t got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose” from his song “Like a Rolling Stone”.
Justice Antonin Scalia, in a case involving privacy protection for employees that use company email, said “The times they are a-changing’ is a feeble excuse for disregard of duty”.
I wonder if a Judge will ever recite this line from Dylan’s “Hurricane”:
“The trial was a pig-circus he never had a chance”
I doubt it!