Wisdom from the judicial branch

Boyd v. U.S., 116 U.S. 616, 635 (1886):

Illegitimate and unconstitutional practices get their first footing . . . by silent approaches and slight deviations from legal modes of procedure. This can only be obviated by adhering to the rule that constitutional provisions for the security of person and property should be liberally construed. A close and literal construction deprives them of half their efficacy, and leads to gradual depreciation of the right, as if it consisted more in sound than in substance. It is the duty of courts to be watchful for the constitutional rights of the citizen, and against any stealthy encroachments thereon. Their motto should be obsta principiis. We have no doubt that the legislative body is actuated by the same motives; but the vast accumulation of public business brought before it sometimes prevents it, on a first presentation, from noticing objections which become developed by time and the practical application of the objectionable law.

I stumbled upon this while reading Courtroom 302 by Steve Bogira. I found it sort of reassuring in light of recent news. Sort of.

Anonymous Lawyer: Does the Truth Hurt?

For some reason, no one ever wonders “what if” they don’t pursue a career at a big law firm.

That’s just one of the many little observations made by the title character of Jeremy Blachman‘s debut novel, Anonymous Lawyer. And like much of the rest of the novel, it rings with a simple truth that will draw you into this novel and even—shock!—make you care about the fate of an archetypically ruthless hiring partner at a big law firm. Coming as it does from a reader predisposed to loath all things Biglaw, that’s saying something!

In a nutshell: This book is simply great. If you have any interest at all in the law as a profession, this book will be one of the best “light” reads of your summer. As all the reviews point out, it’s so funny you’ll laugh out loud. And of course it is! What else would we expect from the genius behind the blog from which the book developed? On top of that, it’s one of the first books written almost completely in blog posts ((Have there been others?)) and its ending is likely to surprise you. But if you pick up this book only expecting some great laughs, be warned: Serious commentary on the state of the legal profession lurks just behind every outrageous thought, statement, and action of the Anonymous Lawyer. That’s what makes this book truly great: like all great satire, even as it’s making you fall out of your chair with laughter, it’s also commenting seriously on the characters and themes it constantly mocks. Ostensibly the book is about the Anonymous Lawyer’s (the AL) struggle to become chairman of his firm. But buried in the jokes is the story of why no one should want to be any part of that firm in the first place, let alone its chairman. It’s funny, but it will probably make you think, too.
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