Now Scalia quotes Bob Dylan

Back in June of 2008, Chief Justice John Roberts became (as far as I know) the first U.S. Supreme Justice to quote Bob Dylan in an opinion. He has been followed two years later by the inestimable Antonin Scalia, who, in City of Ontario versus Quon (.pdf), upbraids the court on which he himself sits thusly:

Applying the Fourth Amendment to new technologies may sometimes be difficult, but when it is necessary to decide a case we have no choice. The Court’s implication, ante, at 10, that where electronic privacy is concerned we should decide less than we otherwise would (that is, less than the principle of law necessary to resolve the case and guide private action)—or that we should hedge our bets by concocting case-specific standards or issuing opaque opinions—is in my view indefensible. The-times-they-are-a-changin’ is a feeble excuse for disregard of duty.

This was a case concerning the privacy of text messages sent while on the job. Despite being dissatisfied with the limited nature of the court’s decision, he concurred with the majority opinion.

A much more detailed consideration of it all is made by Ralph Losey who blogs on legal matters (and seems to be a bit embarrassed at his agreement with Scalia in this case). He also invokes many more apt Dylan lyrics in his treatise: The-times-they-are-a-changin’ is a feeble excuse for disregard of duty.

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