Bob Dylan as Legal Muse

In the turbulent 60’s Bob Dylan’s music and lyrics captured the imagination of a whole generation and became the soundtrack for America’s civil rights and anti-war movements.

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 State 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”.

Even the late 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” , Dylan’s ode to wrongfully convicted Hurricane Carter.

“The trial was a pig-circus he never had a chance”

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

One thought on “Bob Dylan as Legal Muse

  1. In the 1980’s in Prince Edward Island, Canada a layer who went by the nick name Charter John – because he was the only lawyer to over turn a DUI based on Charter Rights argument – – during a sex assault case where he was the defence for the person charged – a psychiatric hospital attendant or nurse –
    He had been seen kissing a female patient – charges were brought – in his closing argument Charter John said – after all your honour – you must remember this – a kiss is just a kiss —
    Not contemporary Pop Culture lyrics – yet Classic Pop Culture lyrics none the less

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