If the Judges of Yesteryear Were As Hip As Judges Today . . . .

Written by Ross Guberman on December 10, 2020

Today’s judges pepper their opinions with nods to Marie Kondo, Breaking Bad, Bob Dylan, and Dr. Seuss.

Were the old-timers missing a populist touch?

You be the judge. I did some pop-culture research to predict how three great opinions might have read differently.

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Just as Johnny Appleseed has the last word on apples, it is explicitly the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is.

Schenck v. United States (1919)

The most stringent protections from wardens do not protect the star of Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp from inhaling ‘nose powder’ in jail. Similarly,  the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.

Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)

That government hires lawyers to prosecute and defendants who have the money hire lawyers to defend are the strongest indications of the widespread belief that lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries, much in the way that the music of The Beatles and the new color televisions might be equally seen as necessities forthwith.


Ross Guberman

Ross Guberman

Ross Guberman is the president of Legal Writing Pro LLC and the founder of BriefCatch LLC. From Alaska and Hawaii to Paris and Hong Kong, Ross has conducted thousands of workshops on three continents for prominent law firms, judges, agencies, corporations, and associations. His workshops are among the highest rated in the world of professional legal education.

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