Pop Culture and the Law

March 13, 2006

There was a time when federal judges could be relied upon to include a quote in their opinion. These quotes historically came from the classics of literature, medicine, drama, or historic speeches. Increasingly, in our society these “quotes” have failed to really grasp the situation the judge is trying to describe. Not surprisingly, more and more judges have turned to pop culture to get their point across. The smoking gun recently reported on a recent federal bankruptcy order, which denied a motion based on “incomprehensibility.” The judge felt compelled to issue an order containing a footnote setting forth how he really felt. It included the classic refrain in Billy Madison, a film starring Adam Sandler. “Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I’ve ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”