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February 04, 2005

Margin Notes to the SCOTUS

If you're a law student, do you make notes in the margins of your books as if you were talking to the writer of the book or the case you're reading? I do. It's kind of like talking to the tv, which I also can't help doing, much to the dismay of everyone who watches television with me, I'm sure. Example: I was reading the opinion in Zurcher v. Stanford Daily, 436 U.S. 547 (1978), in which the Supreme Court held that the “critical element” required to justify a search warrant “is reasonable cause to believe that the specific 'things' to be searched for and seized are located on the property to which entry is sought.” The facts of the case are that the cops thought a newspaper photographer had taken photos of some “demonstrators” who “attacked” a group of police officers. Since there was no reason whatsoever to believe the photographer (or anyone else at the newspaper) had committed any crime, did the police have “probable cause” to get a warrant to search the newspaper offices for the photos? Of course, the Court said “yes.” Then it turned to the newspaper's First Amendment argument that such a search infringed upon the guarantee of freedom of the press. The Court wrote:
There is no reason to believe . . . that magistrates cannot guard against searches of the type, scope, and intrusiveness that would actually interfere with the timely publication of a newspaper.
My margin note: “The timely publication won't matter much if the content is vapid b/c the paper's free expression has been trampled by intimidating searches!” The opinion continues:
Nor, if the requirements of specificity and reasonableness are properly applied, policed, and observed, will there be any occasion or opportunity for officers to rummage at large in newspaper files or to intrude into or deter normal editorial and publication decisions.
My margin note: “That's a lot of ifs.” And finally:
Nor are we convinced . . . that confidential soucres will disappear and that the press will suppress news because of fears of unwarranted searches.
My margin note: “Well, you're stupid, then, aren't you?” I know my notes don't do any good for anyone, but they do make the reading more entertaining. Speaking of which, I've got some more “entertaining” reading to do....

Posted February 4, 2005 07:59 AM | 2L law school

The person who buys your books next year is in for quite the treat--that is if you sell your textbooks back to the bookstore when you are done with them.

Posted by: JR at February 4, 2005 08:46 AM

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