Monday, February 22, 2016

cf. Bob Dylan

The late U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia was widely known to be an opera lover – he and his ideologically odd-couple friend, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, played silent walk-on roles in a 1994 Washington National Opera production of Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos,” and were the subjects of Derrick Wang’s comic opera “Scalia/Ginsburg,” introduced last year at Virginia’s Castleton Festival.

Bob Dylan was another of the justice’s musical inclinations – a much odder coupling ideologically, and perhaps a more resonant one.

Thanks in part to Scalia’s references to his lyrics in his writings, Dylan has become the most frequently quoted songwriter in judicial opinions, University of Tennessee law professor Alex B. Long wrote in his 2012 study “The Freewheelin’ Judiciary: A Bob Dylan Anthology.”

Long, however, tells The New York Times’ Adam Liptak that “[j]udges’ inclination to go to Dylan has actually increased in the past few years,” following Chief Justice John Roberts’ use of the phrase “when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose” from “Like a Rolling Stone,” in a 2008 opinion:

Liptak also notes a 2015 study finding 213 references to Dylan’s lyrics in medical research literature.