As a followup to a post about Supreme Court Haiku and the current ABA-sponsored Supreme Court Haiku Contest for Law Students (open until November 15), I've invited Professor Julie Seaman of the Emory School of Law to present a selection of the haiku created by some of her constitutional law, evidence, and free speech students. I think they're a clever and talented group, and their poems have pith. I like pith.
A few weeks ago, and seemingly out of the blue, legal haikus were suddenly everywhere. A former student slipped a flyer under my door announcing a Supreme Court haiku contest for law students, sponsored by the American Bar Association. A sticky note attached to the flyer said, “I thought you’d like to share this with your classes! Apparently the ABA shares your love of legal haiku.” A few days later, someone on the conlawprofs listserv shared a link to the Supreme Court Haiku website (www.supremecourthaiku.com), a remarkably clever and delightful collection of which I’d thus far been unaware.
Why did my student give me the flyer? Because last semester, after trying my hand at legal haikus on a Facebook dare, I announced to my con law class that they could win free passes for writing haikus about the reading assignments. Before each class, I would choose my favorite submission and post it on the powerpoint slides for the class; its author would be entitled to an extra free pass to be used as he or she wished during the semester.
The contest was a big hit with the students. Some students were quite prolific. Many of the haikus were funny and creative. I continued the call for haikus this fall in evidence and free speech. Several students have told me that boiling the cases or rules down to seventeen syllables helps them learn the material – imagine: actual pedagogical value! But even if the exercise is pedagogically irrelevant, it sure is fun to read the submissions. Here are some highlights:
DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dept. of Social Services
Oh poor little JoshState said they would care for himNo prison no help
Colin PetersonBuck v. Bell
Can Carrie have kids?She encumbers the state's funds!She had due process.
Josh KarrTroxel v. Granville
Child can’t see grandmaMom has the right to denythe visitation
Zoya KovalenkoCruzan v. Director, MO Dept of Health
Nancy is brain-deadHer parents grieve, with no choiceBut to watch her lie
Ashleigh McClureNYC Transit Auth. v. Beazer
On that methadoneTA says I can’t work hereUpheld . . . unemployed
Stephanie GrossingerRailway Express Agcy v. New York
It is a health risk,To have car advertisements.Deal with it, locals!
Rebecca SussmanKorematsu v. United States
Refusing Orders?Not So Fast, Korematsu.Jail Time for You, Sir.
Caroline GeiserTiers of scrutiny
Judiciarydefers, but not for suspectclassifications.
Jordan KragtenCraig v. Boren
So now my girlfriendCan’t buy us three-two’s either?Equality bites.
Mike McClainUnited States v. Virginia
Stonewall is glaringShenandoah is playingRAH Virginia Mil!
Rebecca SussmanSkinner v. Oklahoma
Embezzlement: theft,very similar but onesterilizes you.
Alison MurphyMoral turpitudeCannot deprive criminalsOf life’s greatest gift
Watts v. US
Watts threatened the Chief,But such clear hyperboleIs protected speech.
Rebecca HallNew York v. Ferber
If porn depicts kids,value is de minimus.The statute survives.
Joe BeardenTrial of Sir Walter Raleigh
Raleigh’s ghost lingers . . .“What matter how the head lie,So the heart be right?”
Rebecca SussmanRule 804(a)
Forgetful? Stubborn?Sick? Privileged? Dead? Then you are...Unavailable.
Graham BurkhalterAdmissions Doctrine
Wait! Statements I makeare not considered hearsay?I’m done talking now.
Josh KarrI will sit silentIf asked if I read todayTacit Admission
Brad VeronaFrye Test
Frye test rests onthese Elitists assumptions.Jurors can be smart!
The creativity bled over into other student communications. One day the air conditioning was not working in the classroom. After class, this message (from student Chris Roth) was in my inbox:It is so damn warmPlease turn on the A/C nowBecause it is hotAnother day I received this in an email before class (from student Ned Dutton):I’m leaving early,But please don’t be offended.It’s an interview.One day I canceled a reading assignment and received this (from student Rebecca Sussman, whom I must say has discovered a genuine gift for haiku):A sigh of relief,Gonna ignore that reading.Hello, sweet Netflix!Ms. Sussman also apologized for an absence this way:The class glared at me!Rude, loud coughing wouldn't end!I hate bronchitis.Leading up to the review session, student Caroline Geiser sent this:7 more classesand then we have exams?!? Shit.Jesus take the wheel.And finally, on the final (from student Jordan Kragten):Constitutionallaw was tough, but ProfessorSeaman was great. Thanks!