Friday, April 04, 2014

"A Total of Three Sentences"

Mark Tushnet

Chief Justice Roberts's opinion in McCutcheon argued that overruling the relevant holding of Buckley v. Valeo was made easier because the Court there treated the issue in "a total of three sentences." I suppose this means that the opinions of Justice Holmes, and perhaps those of Justice Cardozo, are now less authoritative than they were last week. Oh wait -- we'll know when the Court hands down its decision in Bond v. United States.

[One curiosity: The headnote, and apparently the Chief Justice's oral announcement of the opinion, uses the rhetorically more effective "just three sentences," which -- according to my search function -- doesn't appear in the opinion itself. And one disheartening observation, not about the merits: Consider the incentives the disparagement of brevity gives to judges -- and law clerks -- going forward.]

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