Judges Get Confused By Words
pic credit: toothpaste for dinner
In a decision last week in a patent case, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. puzzled out the meaning of a federal law by consulting the usual legal materials — and five
One of the words he looked up was “of.” He learned that it means pretty much what you think it means.
Ironically, or perhaps not at all, the dictionary folk are a bit disturbed by this trend. “I think that it’s probably wrong, in almost all situations, to use a dictionary in the courtroom,” said Jesse Sheidlower, the editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary. “Dictionary definitions are written with a lot of things in mind, but rigorously circumscribing the exact meanings and connotations of terms is not usually one of them.”
Wait... did he just say that dictionaries don't exist to define words?