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

US Supreme Court Justice Scalia Encourages Catholics

Justice Antonin Scalia, age 75, is the longest-serving Judge on the United States Supreme Court and one of its most conservative members.

In a recent speech to a crowd of more than 500 Catholics in Denver, Colorado, Justice Scalia encouraged the group to have “the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity” by society’s sophisticates.

In my view, the same admonition applies to evangelical Christians in North America, who are often the subject of derision and scorn.

While the belief in a creator and the teachings of Jesus do not usually attract disdain, any mention that Jesus is God, that he was crucified, died, and rose from the dead three days later, ascended into heaven and will return to earth at a time unknown to mankind, is typically regarded as “simple-minded” by so-called intellectuals.

Justice Scalia is quick to say that believers should not abandon their reason and intellect as “faith without a rational basis should be laid aside as fraud”.

Scalia’s comment leads inexorably to a consideration of the faith of America’s Republican candidates for President.

With Governor Mitt Romney emerging as the likely candidate for the Presidency, his Mormon faith will undoubtedly be the subject of intense scrutiny.

While the Governor is a fine man and likely the most winnable contender in the race against Obama, the Mormon faith remains an enigma to most people.

What is beyond debate is that there are no historical records to support the Mormon faith’s central tenet, that founder Joseph Smith was visited by God Almighty in New York State, and came into possession of the “golden plates”, the basis for the Book of Mormon and the doctrine of the Church of Latter- Day Saints.

Even scholars who are adherents to the Mormon faith are unable to verify and attest to the accuracy of the foundation of their religion.

If one studies the history of the Mormon Church and reviews the accumulated literature and research, Justice Scalia’s words find meaning.

Meanwhile, back in the world of American justice and politics , notable Catholics include leading Democrat and Republican politicians or their appointees, such as former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, current Speaker John Boehner, Vice President Joe Biden, Republican contender Rick Santorum, and Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, Kennedy and Sotomayor, all of the United States Supreme Court.

The separation of Church and State in America is constitutionally mandated, but as Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson said:

“The separation of church and state is a source of strength, but the conscience of our nation does not call for separation between men of state and faith in a Supreme Being.”

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang