Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Persuasion is a big part of what we do in our glamor profession, and one of the least persuasive ways I know to preface an argument is to start by saying, "Webster's dictionary defines...." Not infrequently this turns into an adventure in question begging, but even if that trap is avoided this tactic betrays a lack of analytical rigor. In his review of Justice Scalia and Bryan A. Garner's Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts Outside Counsel hero Judge Richard Posner quotes the Hon. Frank Esterbrook on this tropism:
“[T]he choice among meanings [of words in statutes] must have a footing more solid than a dictionary—which is a museum of words, an historical catalog rather than a means to decode the work of legislatures.”
I'd like to know what Posner annd Esterbrook have to say about another of my pet peeves, saying that entering a word or term in Google yields x number of hits.

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