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Amy Davidson is one of The New Yorker magazine's social observers at large. In her recent "Scalia in Verse", she prepared a poem comprised entirely of the italicized words in selected opinions of noted Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

Her poem was delightful but apparently, she did not regard it as sufficient to the day. So she invited readers to contribute, to recompose "Scalia dissents ... with even greater poetic possibilities." She just scratched the surface, pricking our collective consciences. Entries are still being submitted.

'Neath Kos's poetic squiggle is my offering. (Prideful, but also mindful of copyright issues, I use here only mine.) Its title and text consist solely of words employed by the distinguished Justice in his dissent in the DOMA case. Remember, poetic license was called for. The words are rearranged, taken out of context, rampant with elisions and punctuation changes, but subtracted only, not added. Who knew how closely the voluble Justice Scalia could verge on iambic pentameter?

Come on gang. You can do even better. And ... Blessings to Amy Davidson for starting the newest trend in Poetry Writ Large, Variations on a Theme from the Highest Court in the Land.


We might have covered ourselves
with honor today.
It is this proposition with which
I will therefore engage.

Sometimes (though not always)
by accident, as it were,
The matter would have been left
as so many matters ought to be
to a tug of war.

It is just a matter of listening
and waiting for the other shoe.
The question has come out differently
on different occasions.

I find it wryly amusing
there are many perfectly valid —
indeed, downright boring —
many remarkable things
beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement.

The penultimate sentence
of the majority's opinion
is a naked declaration,
a claim that would of course be quite absurd.

It takes real cheek for today's majority
to assure us, as it is going out the door,
whatever disappearing trail
of its legalistic argle-bargle
one chooses to follow.

Hate your neighbor or come along with us.
The truth is more complicated. It is hard
to admit that one's political opponents
are not monsters.

The object of this condemnation — that
is not animus — just stabilizing prudence.

Any panel of like-minded federal judges
can be characterized as mean-spirited,
unhinged members of a wild-eyed lynch mob,
when one first describes their views as they see them.

One could spend many fruitless afternoons ransacking.
Here no one does.
Nothing like that is present here.

Unimaginable evil this is not.
We will have to live with the chaos.
That is as it should be
if what we say is true.

But the Court has cheated both sides,
robbing the winners of an honest victory,
and the losers of the peace
that comes from a fair defeat.
We owed both of them better.

Similarly transposable passages —
deliberately transposable, I think —

I will not swell the U. S. Reports
with restatements of that point.


Here's to poetic license!

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