Friday, June 27, 2008

Smart Aleck

By the way, in critiquing Chief Justice Robert's silly dissent in this week's standing case, I neglected to mention what he obviously regarded as his best shot. You will recall that the case involved potential plaintiffs who sold their legal claims to "aggregators," who sued the defendants and remitted any proceeds to the original claimants. The aggregators received a fee, but the fee was not dependent on the amount recovered in the lawsuits. Therefore, the dissenters argued, the aggregators had no interest in the lawsuits and so lacked standing to sue.

As I observed before, all nine Justices appear to agree that the aggregators standing would have been clear if only their contract with the original claimants had provided that the aggregators could retain one dollar out of the proceeds of a successful lawsuit. The Chief Justice's response? That makes no difference, because "Article III is worth a dollar."

What does that even mean? Have smart-alecky, snarky remarks taken the place of legal analysis? Apparently they have. The Chief Justice, that cool hipster, also said, "When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose." Bob Dylan, Like A Rolling Stone, on Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia Records 1965).

The Dylan quote at least has some meaning. "Article III is worth a dollar" leaves me baffled. There's a difference between smart remarks and cogent rebuttal.

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