Mensch tracht, un Gott lacht

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Judge Boggs

I don't think we ought to expect particularly great virtue or wisdom from judges. I think many people look for such virtue in judges as a religious vocation. Such people are doomed to disappointment. Moreover, I am not one for giving out compliments. So I find it a little odd to tell this story. 

I participate irregularly in a constitutional law listserv. Nearly all the participants are law school professors, with a few practitioners, and a sprinkling of academics in other fields. Some of our participants are retired. The discussion turned to political speech which used target or targeting metaphors. 

As you might imagine, listserv participants had strong things to say about those on the other end of the political spectrum. 

In the middle of this discussion up popped a comment from Judge Boggs. I was quite surprised to see a judge on the listserv. Then I read his comment: I was floored. I thought at the time (and still think) his comment was one of the most insightful things I have ever read. Not just insightful, but well crafted, short, and pleasant to read. So balanced and fair. 

Anyway, here I quote Judge Boggs in full:

re: By the way, apropos targeting metaphors and the like

Danny J Boggs [Sixth Circuit Address]
Fri Apr 2 05:42:07 PDT 2010

I think we could just bring this thread to a conclusion by simply agreeing that:

All of MY SIDE's references and statements are to be taken in the coolest, hip-ironic, culturally aware, benign-metaphorical way possible (see Watts v. United States, and [granting my side the full benefit of the] the conflicting interpretive modes the various judges/justices on the Supreme Court and the Court[s] of Appeals [have approved]), 


All of YOUR SIDE's references and statements are to be taken in the most mindlessly literal, threatening way possible.

That should work for almost all of our commentators, of whatever persuasion.

Also, any charge against MY SIDE requires exquisite legally admissible proof of its accuracy,


Any charge against YOUR SIDE must be true if it was asserted by anyone, anywhere. 

People on MY SIDE are responsible only for what they said personally, in full-quotation context.


People on YOUR SIDE are responsible for the inferred implications of anything said by anyone who ever held any idea vaguely similar to what your people think.


I wish I could write (and think) like Judge Boggs. 


Twitter: ( @SethBTillman )

Seth Barrett Tillman, Judge Boggs,’ New Reform Club (Sept. 7, 2016, 2:11 PM), <>; 


Archilochus said...

Me too.

Martin said...

Reads like Twitter's staff manual for acceptable use of its platform.