In case I took too many shots at the gun-ban opinion and dissents, let me also share eight sentences that hit the writing bull’s-eye.
The Scalia Opinion
- Most evocative use of a single-word sentence
It would be rather like saying “He filled and kicked the bucket” to mean “He filled the bucket and died.” Grotesque.1
- Most interesting use of or as a transition word
Or to put the point differently, operative provisions should be given effect as operative provisions, and prologues as prologues.2
- Most shrewd echo of a case name
JUSTICE STEVENS presses Presser into service to support his view that the right to bear arms is limited to service in the militia . . . .3
- Most clever alcohol reference in a firearms case
It is inconceivable that this law would have been enforced against a person exercising his right to self-defense on New Year’s Day against such drunken hooligans.4
The Stevens and Breyer Dissents
- Most elegant stream of one-syllable words
Breyer: But the question here is whether they are strong enough to destroy judicial confidence in the reasonableness of a legislature that rejects them. And that they are not.5
- Most effective use of rhetorical questions
Breyer: What would the District’s crime rate have looked like without the ban? Higher? Lower? The same? Experts differ; and we, as judges, cannot say.6
- Most compelling use of for as a transition word
Stevens: For if they are to be effective, petitions must involve groups of individuals acting in concert.7
- Most creative alternative to the slippery-slope cliché
Stevens: Given the presumption that most citizens are law abiding, and the reality that the need to defend oneself may suddenly arise in a host of locations outside the home, I fear that the District’s policy choice may well be just the first of an unknown number of dominoes to be knocked off the table.8
- District of Columbia v. Heller, No. 07-290, 2008 WL 2520816, *7
(U.S. June 26, 2008).
- Id. at 4.
- Id. at 25.
- Id. at 31.
- Id. at 65.
- Id. at 65.
- Id. at 36.
- Id. at 51.