Janice Rogers Brown Is Experienced

Slate's blog on legal issues.
July 8 2008 10:57 AM

Janice Rogers Brown Is Experienced

As Dahlia noted  a couple of weeks ago , Chief Justice Roberts used his dissent in Sprint v. APCC [pdf] as an occasion to quote (or, perhaps, misquote ) Bob Dylan.  As Alex Long previously explained , however, quoting Bob Dylan in a judicial opinion is hardly novel:  Dylan's lyrics have been invoked in dozens of legal opinions and articles.

D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown has taken this trend to a whole new level:  Today she opened the court's opinion in  K&R Limited Partnership v. Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency  [pdf] with a line from ... Jimi Hendrix :


Forty years ago Jimi Hendrix trilled his plaintive query: "Is this love, baby, or is it … [just] confusion?" JIMI HENDRIX, Love or Confusion , on ARE YOU EXPERIENCED (Reprise Records 1967). In this False Claims Act case, we face a similar question involving a mortgage subsidy program initiated in that era: Is this fraud, or is it … just confusion?

I find it hard to believe that any other judge, boomer or otherwise, will be able to top this.  So let's hope that good folks of the federal and state benches all have the good sense to stop trying, before this gets out of hand. 

Do we really want to head down a road where, forty years from now, we'll see today's music showing up in opinions?  Will judges someday quote New Found Glory in tort suits ("slightly bruised and broken from our head on collision")?  Maybe a future judge (appointed by President Obama , no doubt) will employ Jay-Z's " 99 Problems " to help define to contours of permissible car searches under the Fourth Amendment.

Thanks, but no thanks.  In the words of Waylon Jennings , let's hope that "this time will be the last time."


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