Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another Linguists' Brief

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear Flores-Figueroa v. United States. Oral argument is set for next Wednesday, Feb. 25th. As in Hayes, there is a linguists' amicus brief on behalf of neither party (authored by the same attorney). Amici this time are Tom Ernst, Georgia Green, Jeffrey Kaplan and Sally McConnell-Ginet, and the subject matter is adverbs. In particular, the interpretation of the phrase knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person, and whether a means of identification of another person is in the scope of knowing. The conclusion: unambiguously yes, unless the reader adopts the not very natural de re reading.

By the way, oral argument in Hayes was full of linguistic discussion. Also, Chief Justice Roberts learned a new word, "romanette."

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