And that the ladder of the law has no top and no bottom: Bob Dylan’s lyrics find their way into many judicial opinions

(HT: Bill Glennen)

From the LA Times:

On summer nights in the mid-1960s, while black-and-white television crackled elsewhere in his Staten Island home with news of Southern violence and Vietnam, Bobby Lasnik would stretch out in his bedroom to let the righteous soundtrack of the civil rights movement waft into his impressionable teenage soul.

Tuned in to WBAI-FM, coming across the water from Manhattan, he heard baleful laments about injustice that he would carry with him for a lifetime.

“Suddenly there was someone speaking a certain kind of truth to you. You’d say, ‘Wow! That’s something I’m not used to hearing on the radio, something that moved me,’” Lasnik said of the first time he heard the lyrics of Bob Dylan. “I don’t even remember which song it was, but I loved the imagery, the words you wouldn’t think about putting together and the concepts that would emerge in your mind when you heard them.”

Now the imagery flows in the other direction. U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik — Your Honor, not Bobby — has been known to invoke the voice of the vagabond poet in rulings from the federal bench in Seattle. He has recited lines from “Chimes of Freedom” in a case weighing the legality of indefinite detention and “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” the battle cry of the civil rights movement, in a landmark ruling that excluding contraceptives from an employer’s prescription drug plan constitutes sex discrimination.

Read the rest here.

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