April 4, 2011

The First U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Footnote, National Poetry Month, and Law and Poetry

More from the Constitutional Law Blog on footnotes (this theme is really interesting):

The first footnote to appear in a United States Supreme Court opinion is in French, in a case in which the Court's task was resolving a dispute between a citizen of France and a citizen of Louisiana regarding annuling a lease of a sugar plantation because of the "extraordinary rise of the Mississippi River."  
Professor Ruthann Robson, CUNY School of Law provides the footnote:

'Si le preneur est expulsé par le fait du prince, par une force majeure, ou par quelque autre cas fortuit, ou si l'héritage périt par un débordement, par un tremblement de terre, on autre événement, le bailleur, qui était tenu de donner le fonds, ne pourra prétendre le prix du bail, et sera tenu de rendre ce qu'il en avait re cu, mais sans aucun autre dédommagement; car personne ne doit répondre des cas fortuits.’
And she notes that the French citizen won. Professor Robson tells us that footnotes are the theme for the month, since they are the closest thing to poetry she can find for constitutional law, and April is National Poetry Month.

I did find some links between law and poetry. Check here for Lloyd Duhaime's Law and Poetry page, on which he notes some lawyers who were poets, and some poets who were almost lawyers (poetic justice?) He mentions Archibald MacLeish, lawyer and poet, and Jacob Grimm, law student and commentator on poetry. I note that other lawyer/poets include nineteenth century lawyer Ernest Charles Jones, admiralty lawyer John A. Quinby, internet lawyer Adam Taylor, John William Corrington, Wallace Stevens, William Cullen Bryant, Purdue professor Mary Leader, University of Georgia Professor Alex Scherr, Administrative Law Judge Oliver Mbamara, Edgar Lee Masters, William Ross Wallace ("The Hand That Rocks the Cradle", Federico Garcia Lorca, perhaps the most important Spanish poet/dramatist of the twentieth century, and Sir John Davies, a Renaissance lawyer/poet.

Here's a Volokh Conspiracy post about law and poetry. And check out Poetry of the Law, edited by David Kader and Michael Stanford, and published by the University of Iowa Press (2010), a collection of law-related poetry, the first ever "serious anthology", says the publisher, to appear in the U.S.

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