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JUSTICE BREYER: A FOOTNOTE HAS NO PLACE

What are the appropriate uses of footnotes? None, according to Justice Breyer.

Any reader of Supreme Court opinions knows that the devil is in the details: those pesky footnotes that Justices use to amplify, minimize or otherwise muddy what they have just written in the text. Justices also use footnotes to bash one another or, less frequently, to offer an olive branch to a colleague whose vote they need to hold a fragile majority.

Given that context, it is notable, if not unprecedented (no one keeps records on this sort of thing), that Justice Stephen G. Breyer went through his freshman year on the Court without writing a footnote. This was scarcely an oversight.

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