Thursday, December 9, 2010
In response to a point raised about "licensing" during Wednesday's oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, Justice Kennedy said "I will look in Corpus Juris Secundum or ALR or something." Geez, I didn't think the Justices used those. For those of us who teach legal research, Justice Kennedy's comment may make it a little easier to convince students about the continued relevance of "old school" legal encyclopedias (whether e-text or p-text) when Google and Wikipedia are often the only secondary sources they trust.
Over at the Law Librarian Blog, Joe Hodnicki posits that the off-hand Supreme Court reference might cause ripples in several different ponds:
- Does Justice Kennedy's law clerks know what "CJS or ALR or something" is? Will they run to the Court's library staff for help? Call a West reference attorney?
- Will West's editorial staffer(s) responsible for writing the CJS, ALR or "something," if it gets cited by SCOTUS, receive a cash bonus, a free lunch, a better parking spot, an employee of the day award, 10 shares of TRI stock, a five minute tour of the executive floor or a "good job" email from TRI CEO Tom Glocer? (Horrors, what if a LexisNexis print title is cited instead!)
- Will some law prof write up something quickly on the topic and post it on SSRN before grading final exams in the off chance that it might be cited by SCOTUS? Perhaps a blog post on The Volokh Conspiracy? Even better, a tweet because SCOTUS hasn't cited one yet.
- Will the issue be used in LRW class assignments across the legal academy next semester?
- Will a law librarian check out how many entries down the WestlawNext output display, a relevant "CJS or ALR or something" in the secondary literature is listed?
Personally, I've never found CJS that helpful - the annotations are ancient and sometimes aren't accurate. ALR, on the other hand, is still a champ.
Hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog.