The law and metaphor have a long history of cohabitation (about as long as law and language, I bet). Lawyers are familiar, perhaps to the point of unconsciousness, with the phenomenon. As Pitt Law professor Tom Ross observed:
We live in a magical world of law where liens float, corporations reside, minds hold meetings, and promises run with the land. The constitutional landscape is dotted with streams, walls, and poisonous trees. And these wonderful things are cradled in the seamless web of law.
Judicial opinions are often thought to be formulaic cut-and-dried affairs -- just the facts, law, reasoning and conclusion, ma'am -- and many of them dutifully live up to that dull expectation. But you just can't keep good writing down, even in judicial opinions, and good writing sometimes requires a good metaphor (or simile). It turns out there's even a whole book on metaphor and legal opinions -- Metaphor and Reason in Judicial Opinions.
SBM Blog would like to celebrate the use of metaphor and simile in judicial opinions with an occasional post in a new feature, "Opinionated Metaphors," starting today.
If you spot any particularly compelling metaphors or similes in judicial opinions, let us know.Painting (detail): Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1528, Uffizi, Florence