Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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Opinion | If ‘Law & Order’ investigations went like the Supreme Court leak


Remember when a draft leaked of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, in what everyone observing the court considered an egregious violation of the sort not to be tolerated, and to the bottom of which they swore to get?

Well, the Supreme Court has finished its investigation and found that the culprit was … unknowable! Better luck next time! They even had former homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff contemplate the investigation. He pronounced it “thorough,” and didn’t do any more investigation himself.

Seems fine! Anyway, since most of what I know about the law is from “Law and Order,” here is an episode of its next wildly popular spinoff: “Law and Order: If They Investigated Things the Way the Supreme Court Seems to Have Investigated Its Leak Case.”

[Two people are walking along the Supreme Court sidewalk having an unrelated conversation when … a crime happens! DUN-DUN! Cut to: An interrogation room.]

Detective: Did you do it?

Detective: Keep in mind you have to sign a legal document that says you didn’t do it.

Ruth Marcus: At the court, a whodunit without a perp

Detective: You can annotate it if you need to, though. Like, to pick a random example, if this were a leak investigation, and if you just remembered that you might have told your spouse, you could annotate your statement to say that.

Detective: Well, I guess that’s it. You can go.

Other Detective, From Desk Over in the Corner: Wait!

Other Detective: Have you checked their publicly available social media to see if they are connected to the scene of the crime? On LinkedIn, or Facebook?

Detective: Yeah, we checked that.

Other Detective: Oh. Well, that’s it. We’ve exhausted literally every possible technique at our disposal.

Lawyer: Are you sure that you have? We need evidence! Couldn’t you try to … find evidence?

Detective: We did. We did a thorough investigation. That’s all we can do. We can look at ourselves in the mirror and say, “We did our best.” And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what counts?

Lawyer: Not when you are investigating a crime. Look, we know the crime happened, so someone had to have done it!

Detective: You ever hear of a victimless crime? This was its cousin, the perpetratorless crime.

Lawyer: That’s not a thing.

Detective: Sure it is. You ever try to follow up on an assault at a prep school party? A perpetratorless crime is a crime where the most likely suspect belongs to a country club.

Lawyer: I don’t understand. Someone did it, and we just need to find that person.

Detective: Maybe it was a person. Maybe it was a fog, or a ghost, or the emanations of the penumbras that come out of the Constitution and offer us guidance.

Lawyer: I think it was a person. It wasn’t no one!

Detective: No one has done a lot of crimes. He blinded the Cyclops.

Lawyer: Look, I just think there’s more investigating you could do before you shrug and say, “Some things are just unknowable.”

Detective (shrugging): Some things are just unknowable. Like, how is the Supreme Court going to rule on any given case?

Lawyer: I agree that some things are unknowable, but I don’t think that’s one of them.

Detective: Where do bees come from? Who makes Coca-Cola products, really? Where is James Madison now?

Lawyer: Again, you are listing things that feel pretty knowable to me.

Detective: Sure, poke and prod. Ask your questions. But, at the end of the day, where does that really get you?

Lawyer: I think it gets me more information.

Detective: That was a rhetorical question, one that is asked without expecting any answer.

Lawyer: No, I have noticed you asking a lot of those.

Plumber (entering): Hi, I heard you had a leak? I am here to locate the source of the leak and fix it.

Detective: Impossible! Even for a computer!

[The office begins steadily filling up with water as they speak.]

Lawyer: I just, I just can’t help feeling you could have looked a little harder.

Detective: Sorry, that’s literally impossible. If there is one thing I know about this crime, it’s like the U.S. Supreme Court: People don’t want any more information about it, and knowing more about it wouldn’t make them feel any better.

Lawyer: [Unintelligible through large volumes of water.]

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