Friday, April 11, 2014

Amusing Alliteration

Alliteration is a stylistic device and occurs when words in close proximity share the same first consonant (or consonant sound). Judges sometimes use alliteration to make points or emphasize certain words. For example, in discussing claims of sexual harassment in the workplace, the Eleventh Circuit has noted that while severe harassment can be traumatic, that harassment "cannot be corrected without the cooperation of the victims." Walton v. Johnson & Johnson Servs., Inc., 347 F.3d 1272, 1290 (11th Cir. 2003) (internal quotations and citations omitted).

Judge Young, from the DC Circuit, has described police power, itself an alliteration, as "[a]n axiomatic but amorphous aspect of sovereignty." Amerisource Corp. v. United States, 525 F.3d 1149, 1152 (D.C. Cir. 2008). In another case, Judge Boggs, of the Sixth Circuit, dissented from a denial of an en banc hearing in a case involving a school board's right to open its meetings with prayer. The panel that heard the appeal found the prayer violated the Establishment Clause. In criticizing that holding, Judge Boggs noted: "Thus, if they are serious about suppressing those perceived evils, they must believe that the Constitution allows Marx but not Moses, Oprah but not Obadiah, and Emerson but not Ephesians." Coles v. Cleveland Bd. of Educ., 183 F.3d 538, 540 (6th Cir. 1999).

And Justice Cardozo has even provided a fun alliteration. In Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co., the plaintiff suffered a knee injury on a ride aptly known as the flopper. Cardozo wrote: “The antics of the clown are not the paces of the cloistered cleric. The rough and boisterous joke, the horseplay of the crowd, evokes its own guffaws, but they are not the pleasures of tranquility. The plaintiff was not seeking a retreat for meditation.... The timorous may stay at home.” 250 N.Y. 479, 482-83 (1950).

Some law-related alliterations include:
-sovereign citizen
-malice murder
-aggravated assault
-friendly fire
-symbolic speech
-adverse authority
-hell or high water (a contract clause)

Can you think of others?

Happy Friday!

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