Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes on Profusion of Pages, Briefs and Arguments in Briefs (10/2/13)

This snippet appeared on the Legal History Blog -- Dan Ernst, Something to Remember When Reading a Holmes Opinion (Legal History Blog 10/2/13), here:

The quote is from Erwin Griswold [Wikipedia entry here], former Solkictor General of the U.S., Dean Harvard Law, and renowned tax expert (from Wikipedia, "He became an expert at arguing tax cases before the Supreme Court, and is considered one of the great scholars in tax law."  Dean Griswold remembers a conversation with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes [Wikipedia entry here], a giant himself, as follows:
“As we went into his room he took a great big thick brief and threw it in the wastebasket,” Griswold recalled.  Holmes said, “‘147 pages long, I don’t read ‘em when they’re that long and I don’t care who knows it either.'  And then he said, ‘I don’t see why lawyers do the things they do.  First they make the point and then they put it in black letters and then they repeat it and then they put it in italics and then they say it again and then they put it all capital letters.’  He said, ‘I don’t see why they write it the way the Germans do, with emphasis and reiteration.  I don’t see why they don’t . . . suggest something and leave it to our imagination, like a questionable French novel.’”
Oliver Wendell Holmes also said “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”  Compania de Tobacos v. Collector, 275 U.S. 87, 100 (1927) (dissenting).


  1. When would the same be said about the Afordable Care Acts 10,535 pages of regulations.

  2. At the very least, the US government should have warned innocent Americans in Switzerland that it was going to cause unnecessary problems for them. Yet, instead, it gave no warning, caused them to get kicked out of their banks even though they did nothing wrong, and now it is lying about the whole thing instead of apologizing, simply because its vision got clouded with the greed for money and simply because it knew that it could use its economic might to blackmail other nations into paying. Now, as a result of this American greed for money, banks are being forced to pay huge sums of money on legal fees simply to prove their innocence. The problem is not Switzerland but rather America.


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