Some judges are as well-known for their literary prowess as they are for monumental civil and criminal rulings.
"There is no surer way to misread any document than to read it literally," Appellate Judge Learned Hand wrote in a 1944 ruling. In 1927, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote "it is the function of free speech to free men from bondage of irrational fears." And let us not forget the immortal words of Justice Clarence Thomas: "Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?"
So as armchair legal scholars, we were ecstatic that the geeks at Subspace Communique reported on a recent Texas Supreme Court opinion that cited perhaps the greatest legal mind ever: Mr. Spock. (Of the Vulcan Spocks).
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As the geeks point out, "Texas Supreme Court Justice Don R. Willett cited Spock and 'Star Treck II: The Wrath of Khan" in an October opinion related to an asbestos lawsuit.
"Appropriately weight principles guide our course," Willett wrote. "First, we recognize that police power draws from the credo that 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.' Second, while this maxim rings utilitarian and Dickensian (not to mention Vulcan), it is cabined by something contrarian and Texan...."
In a footnote to the Vulcan bit, Willett explained, "See Star Trek II: The Wrath ofKhan (Paramount Pictures, 1982). The film references several works of classic literature, none more prominently than A Tale of Two Cities. Spock gives Admiral Kirk an antique copy as a birthday present, and the film itself is bookended with the book's opening and closing passages. Most memorable, of course, is Spock's famous line from his moment of sacrifice: 'Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh...' to which Kirk, replies, 'the needs of the few.'"
Now we understand why Justice Willett always upholds sentences where defendants are condemned to having brain-eating bugs forced in their ears.