Friday, April 01, 2005

 

This is your Supreme Court Justice on drugs

In my Constitutional Law class, we are studying Gonzalez v. Raich, the pending U. S. Supreme Court case which challenges the power of Congress to define the growing of marijuana in one's backyard solely for personal use for treatment of one's own serious medical condition as illegal interstate drug trafficking. My students read through the transcript of the November 29, 2004 oral argument, reading the parts of the Justices and the advocates.

At one point during the argument on behalf of the marijuana-using patients, this interesting colloquy took place:
JUSTICE BREYER: Well, here, they say -- look, I take it you're using this because I was going to ask you. You know,he grows heroin, cocaine, tomatoes that are going to have genomes in them that could, at some point, lead to tomato children that will eventually affect Boston. You know, we can -- oil that's never, in fact, being used, but we want an inventory of it, federally. You know, I can multiply the examples --

MR. BARNETT: Well --

JUSTICE BREYER: -- and you can, too. So you're going to get around all those examples by saying what?

MR. BARNETT: By saying that it's all going to depend on the regulatory scheme, what the --

JUSTICE BREYER: Yeah.
[Transcript, pp. 30-31]
When we were done with the transcript, I asked the class for its comments and questions. The student who read the part of Justice Breyer eschewed the cheap laugh (not "what was he smoking"), but instead asked in all candor: "Can you tell me what in the world I was talking about?"

***

Comments:
LOL! It's because of tidbits like this that I read your blog, despite not being related to you.

I am in the Boston area, and can affirm that the tomato children will pose a huge problem for us. They will interfere with our efforts to federally inventory oil that's never being used.
 
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Thanks, Phantom. As one who is always willing to seek out the cloud around the silver lining, I guess you're also saying you don't read my blog because of the long, multi-thousand word screeds on, for instance, steroid use in baseball.

Since I can't ask Breyer, perhaps you as a Boston area resident can shed some light: is he talking about salad oil?
 
Hmmmm. No, as far as I know, we use up all the salad oil here in Boston -- I believe it's being used to seal leaks in the Big Dig. (We're also using tomato children for that purpose.) There is none left over for the purpose of federal inventory.

Oh, I like screeds on steroid use in baseball, too.
 
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