"Even so did we seize the fiery-pointed brand

and whirled it round in his eye,

and the blood flowed about the heated bar."

Dare guess which case this stirring quote by Homer can be found?  How about this one from Shakespeare: "Yes, truly, for look you, the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children"?  Curious for more?

Supreme Quotes: Surprising Quotations in Supreme Court Opinions is the first popular reference book of its kind, written by avowed quotation lover, Evan J. Roth.  Inside its covers, you will find the famous and infamous and their words quoted to support important points in important cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Each entry in the book starts with a quote, followed by a summary of the case giving the quote its context to "crystallize an important issue being debated before the Supreme Court."

For example, in the first quote above, Justice Scalia quotes Homer in the case Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 564 U.S. 786, 796 (2011).  The case centers around a 2005 California law prohibiting the sale of violent video games to minors.  The U.S. Supreme Court stuck down the law as an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.  Wriitng for the majority, Justice Scalia reasoned video games are protected speech like "books, plays, and movies."  He points out children's books often depict violence from Cinderella to Snow White.  "But Justice Scalia's most gruesome example was Homer's Odyssey, in which Odysseus used a heated stake to blind the Cyclops Polyphemus."

Justice Scalia, who is well known for his wit and colorful opinions, is in good company in Roth's book.  Other Justices who join the Honorable Antonin Scalia in quoting the quotable include: Justice Hugo Black, Justice William Brennan, Justice William Douglas, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice John Paul Stevens, and Chief Justice Earl Warren to name a few.

The quoted include the likes of Alan Alda, George Carlin, The Dalai Lama, Benjamin Franklin, Ira Gershwin, Hercules, Herman Melville, George Orwell, Mark Twain, and many, many more.  We'll end with an uplifting quote by the poet Robert Frost that Justice Souter recites: "My object of living is 'to unite [m]y avocation and my vocation.'"  The poem, Two Tramps in Mud Time, continues: "As my two eyes make one in sight. Only where love and need are one, And the work is play for mortal stakes, Is the deed ever really done For Heaven and the future's sakes."

Should it strike your fancy, you can find this fine title in the Law Library's collection at call number: KF8742.A35 R68 2022.

Submitted by Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian on April 12, 2023

This article appears in the categories: Law Library