Is Shirley squirrelly?
In a pretty straight forward case involving a dead end road, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson tried to decide a case by not using past court decisions, state law or anything judicial. Instead, she tried to rule on a case on a poem. Yes, a poem.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article would seem to give that impression.
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson dissented from the majority opinion and wrote that two boards would always act separately under the majority’s interpretation of the phrase.
To support her view, Abrahamson turned to Khalil Gibran’s poem “On Marriage.”
“Gibran eloquently describes how marriage requires partners to act together, yet remain separate throughout their marriage,” Abrahamson said.
“As I read the statute, the phrase ‘acting together’ means the boards are to act as a single group,” she said in her dissent.
Could be worse, she could have quoted The Turtles.
To be fair to the Chief Justice, she does spend a great deal of her opinion discussing the role of the courts in reviewing the issue. It’s only when she gets to the actual dispute in the case, the interpretation of “acting together,” that she finds her legal Erato (starting with ¶95). Here’s the relevant footnote:
2 The majority fails to recognize that acting together does not mean sacrificing individuality and individuality does not mean sacrificing acting together. The majority opinion calls to mind a poem by Khalil Gibran that I am often asked to read when I officiate at weddings. Gibran eloquently describes how marriage requires partners to act together, yet remain separate throughout their marriage.
On Marriage (The Prophet, 1923)
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together;
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
I am so glad I got married in a Catholic church instead of having this read at my wedding. Also, all this talk of God, doesn’t that violate the separation of Church and State the liberals love to talk about?
That said, wouldn’t the interpretation of the poem lead to the conclusion that the two town boards, by holding a joint hearing and voting seperately, acted together to decide the matter?
Oh gawd, now she’s got me doing it, too.