SCOTUS Decisions: Making Lawyers More Elitist


There is no shortage of news coming from the Supreme Court this week. News outlets, twitter, facebook feeds, and the like are blowing up with comments about the Voting Rights Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, and Proposition 8. Everyone is ready and willing to add their “thoughts” to the discussion about what the Court should be doing, what they did, and what they did wrong. Whether it be Lady Gaga or Constitutional Scholars, it’s time to show the world that you know better than everyone else.

It’s Supreme Court decision season. The time of year where laws can crumble or shine at the whim of nine people. And, more importantly, the time of year where everyone thinks they are a lawyer. Never mind that most people have never bothered to read the annoyingly-indented opinions the Supreme Court puts out.

This is also the time of year when lawyers are at their most elitist. And rightfully so! We’re lawyers. We understand the law. We can nod along knowingly as a CNN correspondent dumbs it down for the rest of America. We are on the inside track. We roll our eyes at celebrities who feel the need to weigh in on decisions. Do you really think the Supreme Court should be taking your tweets into consideration in its opinion? They’re the Supreme Court for heaven’s sake. Not your local Rotary.

And, because we understand the law so well, we can mock the newscasters who get it wrong. After all, shouldn’t they know that these opinions are hard? You can’t just breeze through a Supreme Court opinion for the gist of it. If you could, none of us would have spent a couple hundred thousand dollars learning how to pretend to read cases so we could sound intelligent when called on.

So now that the Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, I get to hear my Uncle Mike explain to me why he needs to divorce his wife because the next step is forcing everyone to get “gay married.” As a law student I would respond to these comments with a “don’t be ridiculous. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Now as a lawyer, tired of having to try to argue against slippery slopes, delusions, and hyperbole, I just ask him “What do you mean Uncle Mike? That’s already the law under ObamaCare.”

(photo: The front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, at dusk. from Shutterstock)

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