Futures and Options

Just another town along the road.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ahh, Now I GeTTT It…

I’m having one of those days where my motivation has simply decided not to show up.  There are a lot of little things that clue me in to days like this.  Some of them, like checking Cracked.com over and over again on the basis that, “maybe this will be the day they post more than 3 new articles” are relatively benign.  Others, like wading into Yahoo! Answers, are not.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Yahoo! Answers, imagine a place where people post questions and receive answers from the same sort of people who post comments on YouTube.  If you’re in a mood for feeling better about yourself through schadenfreude, Yahoo! Answers is a good place to visit.  Especially the area for legal questions.  Doubly so if you have any familiarity with the law.

It’s also a passable last-ditch option if you’re really, really searching for anything to do that isn’t reading a casebook.

Yahoo! Answers is the last place on earth a person with any common sense would turn to for legitimate advice.  It’s certainly not a source of advice for anyone connected with the legal profession.  Which makes the question I saw earlier today a bit odd…

What case establishes (or alludes to) privacy as a fundamental right?

Looking for Supreme Court cases referring to privacy as a fundamental right, perhaps some applications in federal cases.
Also, if there are any compelling law review articles on this I wouldn’t mind reading them for a bit of background.

Thanks in advance.

At first blush, this seems like a rather intelligent question (by Yahoo! standards anyway).  OK, so they have the novice assumption that the right to privacy came out of a single case rather than a gradual evolution starting with an 1890 law review article co-authored by Louis Brandeis, but that’s not bad for a lay person.  I mean, the phrase “penumbral rights” really isn’t something that comes up in casual conversation; it’s understandable that someone outside of the field would be thinking in terms of a more generic answer.  Louis Brandeis definitely doesn’t come up in popular culture (which is a damn shame, but that’s just my inner curmudgeon coming out again).

From there on out though, I start glitching.  Applications in federal cases?  OK, I suppose that someone outside the field wouldn’t really know that the vast majority of SCOTUS cases are “federal cases.”  I mean, it sounds odd to me since, while it’s theoretically possible for the SCOTUS to hear a purely state law case on diversity grounds (or if the federal government is sued on the basis of state law), the SCOTUS almost never hears anything that doesn’t present a federal question, but a lay person might not know that.  But why, I can’t help wondering, would a lay person be asking about application in federal cases?  Beyond that, how many lay people even know to ask about law review articles, let alone actively want to read them?

Since the alternative was to go back to reading my IP casebook (or back to watching my Buckeyes fold like a cheap suit in the 4th quarter), I pondered this for a while.  The acceptable grammar, clear formatting, and polite tone suggested that the question wasn’t from a high school student looking for homework help and the request for law review articles essentially clinched it for me; the number of high-schoolers who would know enough to ask about law review articles is just too small.  A curious undergrad?  Perhaps, but, again, the request for law review articles seemed to argue against it.  Someone attempting a pro se case?  Possible, but usually those people will include more information about their own case.

Then it hit me.  1L.  It’s exactly the right combination of knowledge (they know that law reviews exist), over-eagerness (they actually want to read law review articles), and innocence (they think the right to privacy sprang fully-formed out of just a few cases).  But why ask that on Yahoo! Answers?  Even during those first few weeks when the 1Ls are still afraid of professors they should have 2L and 3L students to ask.  The “Career Services” offices are always gung-ho about setting up “student mentors” for just this sort of 1L gunner. Even the most naive 1L should know better than to use Yahoo! Answers for a research resource.

I struggled with this for a few more minutes when everything suddenly became clear…

Kids, if you’re a 1L and either you or your classmates are looking up legal advice on Yahoo! Answers then congratulations, you’re going into massive debt for a degree from a Third Tier Toilet.

posted by Zenmervolt at 21:54  

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