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Legally Lyrical Decisions

May 22, 2011
This was my latest post for my law firm, The Foster Group.   It’s just a lighter look at the pretty intense legal world.  Enjoy.

Recently it was reported that Bob Dylan has assumed the title of most quoted musician (or lyricist) in the US court system.  Apparently our justices have an affinity for “The Voice of a Generation.”  In 2007, Professor Alex Long of the University of Tennessee did a content analysis and found 186 references from Dylan’s work at one point that year, compared to 74 and 69, respectively, for the Beatles and Springsteen.

In California alone, the line, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” from “Subterranean Homesick Blues” has been quoted at least a half-dozen times in appellate court rulings as an example of when expert testimony isn’t needed.  Even Supreme Court Justices Roberts and Scalia have quoted Dylan.  Chief Justice Roberts used the line, “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose,” from the song “Like a Rolling Stone.”  Roberts did correct the grammar by dropping the “ain’t.”  Justice Scalia used the line, “The times they are a-changin’” when he scolded the majority for their avoidance in making a decision about company email privacy.

It’s not that hard to believe that judges would use some famous lines from some of the all-time greats.  But who are some quality contemporary artist our justices should consider quoting?  Here are some suggestions:

Katy Perry:  “I kissed a girl and I liked it.  The taste of her cherry chapstick.”
Beyonce: “If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it!”


Ke$ha: “Back- back- backstabber, back- back- backstabber, back- back- backstabber.”


Justin Bieber:  “Are we an item? Girl, quit playin’! We’re just friends, What are you sayin’?”


Lady Gaga:  “Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah-ah  Roma-roma-ma  Gaga- ooh- lalaaa”

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