Friday, January 23, 2009

Roberts Screwed The Oath Pooch Because He's A Stickler For Grammar

It seems that Chief Justice John Roberts is such a grammar stickler and a know-it-all, that he felt the instinctual need to grammatically correct a 220 year old oath specifically written in the Constitution because of a split-verb myth.

...How could a famous stickler for grammar have bungled that 35-word passage, among the best-known words in the Constitution? Conspiracy theorists and connoisseurs of Freudian slips have surmised that it was unconscious retaliation for Senator Obama’s vote against the chief justice’s confirmation in 2005. But a simpler explanation is that the wayward adverb in the passage is blowback from Chief Justice Roberts’s habit of grammatical niggling.

...In his legal opinions, Chief Justice Roberts has altered quotations to conform to his notions of grammaticality, as when he excised the “ain’t” from Bob Dylan’s line “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” On Tuesday his inner copy editor overrode any instincts toward strict constructionism and unilaterally amended the Constitution by moving the adverb “faithfully” away from the verb.

President Obama, whose attention to language is obvious in his speeches and writings, smiled at the chief justice’s hypercorrection, then gamely repeated it. Let’s hope that during the next four years he will always challenge dogma and boldly lead the nation in new directions.

Now he will be forever known as the Chief Justice that screwed up the Presidential Oath of Office. Heckuva job, Johnny.

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