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The Schmooze

Elena Kagan Livens Up SCOTUS With Spider-Man Jokes

Who better to rule on a case called Kimble vs. Marvel Entertainment than a die-hard Marvel fan?

Enter Elena Kagan, Supreme Court Justice by day, friendly neighborhood Spider-man defender by night.

The case involved an inventor, Stephen Kimble, inventor of a Spider-Man web-shooting toy (licensed to Marvel) who claimed that a 51-year-old legal precedent was preventing him from earning royalties. SCOTUS granted Marvel the win by upholding the precedent 6-3.

This would usually be the stuff boredom comas are made of. But Justice Kagan — whose is apparently “The Avengers” (she’s also a big fan of froyo) — livened things up by putting her Marvel knowledge to good use in the form of legal Spiderman jokes.

Kudos to our friends at New York Magazine, who read the decision and picked out the following gems:

“The parties set no end date for royalties, apparently contemplating that they would continue for as long as kids want to imitate Spider-Man (by doing whatever a spider can).”

“Patents endow their holders with certain superpowers, but only for a limited time.”

“As against this superpowered form of stare decisis, we would need a superspecial justification to warrant reversing Brulotte.”

“To the contrary, the decision’s close relation to a whole web of precedents means that reversing it could threaten others.”

“What we can decide, we can undecide. But stare decisis teaches that we should exercise that authority sparingly. Cf. S. Lee and S. Ditko, Amazing Fantasy No. 15: ‘SpiderMan,’ p. 13 (1962) (‘[I]n this world, with great power there must also come—great responsibility’).”

I’m the first to rhapsodize about my undying love and devotion for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but it’s nice to see another judicial Jewess get her moment in the spotlight.

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