The Breakfast Table

Blowin’ in the Wind

Dear Walter and Cliff and Jack:

It’s almost impossible to explain what happens at the Supreme Court when the press corps discovers that this last Monday of the term—a day ripe with the promise of guns and oil slicks and capital punishment—swirls down the tubes in the span of 20 minutes of boring decisions. Three opinions were handed down this morning—Sprint Communications v. APCC Services, Greenlaw v. United States, and  Rothgery v. Gillespie County—each of which we will read as fast as we can. So disappointing were these results that half the press corps promptly took off the rest of the day to get pedicures. And there’s this poor guy I know named Walter Dellinger, who now has three cases that he has argued all coming down later this week … what does that feel like, Walter?

Nevertheless, and through the fog of despair at the utter lameness of this morning’s catch, I would be remiss not to point out this glorious bright spot: Chief Justice Roberts, dissenting in Sprint Communications,reminds us this morning what happens when you put a hip guy into a square job. The case is an insanely technical dispute over whether a group of “aggregators,” who have been assigned the legal claims of pay-phone operators that are suing long-distance carriers, have standing to bring suit in federal court. I know, I know—tell me when your heart starts up again. In any event, the chief justice, dissenting from Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion finding that there is standing, writes as follows:

The absence of any right to the substantive recovery means that respondents cannot benefit from the judgment they seek and thus lack Article III standing. “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” Bob Dylan, “Like A Rolling Stone,” on Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia Records, 1965).

Smell like a reader contest to you??? Yup. So while we Breakfasters toil away on today’s opinions, we invite readers to submit entries for Dylan lyrics that sum up any case or dissent from the 2007 Supreme Court term. We’ll post our favorites. Send mail to I guess in anticipation of the D.C. guns case, I’ll offer up this line from “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”:

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore.