Dear Justice: In re Relationship

Dear Justice 2[The facts of In re Relationship were summarized well in the plaintiff’s complaint:

“A classmate and I have had a wonderful platonic friendship all throughout the school year.  We spend late nights studying together and we sit next to each other in many cases.  At Barrister’s Ball, we both had quite a bit to drink and exchanged some not very platonic kisses.  Now this friend wants to pursue a more intimate relationship. I don’t know if I have romantic feelings towards this friend, and I don’t want to jeopardize our friendship.  Can I just pretend it never happened, or do my friend and I have to have a serious talk about our future? Oh wise justices, I pray for relief from this sticky situation.”]

CHIEF JUSTICE MARSHALL, joined by JUSTICE STORY and JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the court:


I believe this question to be one of high importance to our nation’s affairs. Plaintiff wishes for us to define a relationship, once platonic and now perhaps not so anymore. The first question is whether plaintiff, after engaging in romantic acts with the other member of the questioned relationship, must accept the amended terms of the relationship presented by the other party. Plaintiff’s complaint seems to imply a desire to turn back the sands of time to when the smoochiecoos[1] between the two parties, never occurred. However, the relief of ignoring the romantic acts or treating them as nugatory is simply impossible. Whether romantic or not, this is a relationship, intended to endure for years to come, and, consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs. This relationship will not endure if it is static and ignores these crises.  It is clear to this court that the relief of a serious talk discussing the various parties feelings is clearly the most prudent.


While it is clear to the court that the plaintiff must sit down and discuss the problem for the reasons stated above, the plaintiff asks for relief at an impressible time from this court.  It is April, the cruelest month, where lilacs bloom and students must meet their doom. While we sympathize with the situation, granting a writ of mandamus for the parties to focus on their relationships when they should be focusing on studies would be unlawful. It is emphatically the province and the duty of the law student to study what the law is. As the Constitution clearly states:

Grades and the work made in pursuance thereof shall be the supreme purpose of the land and students should be bound thereby, other purposes of human existence to the contrary notwithstanding.

It is clear that life, liberty and most of all the pursuit of happiness are completely subsumed by the importance of GPA. Therefore, this court cannot rule on this case at this time and plaintiff is denied relief.


We may begin our analysis with an over-simplified grouping of practical situations in which friendships fall.

1. The first situation occurs when both people in the relationship recognize a mutual and romantic attraction to each other. In this zone, the romance is truly at its apex and the relationship should proceed unless barred by some important external factor such as the two parties being related. See Funke v. Bluth, 234 F. 2d 53, 57 (Cal. 2006).

2.  When the two parties are confused about their feelings towards one another, or when one has feelings of romantic attraction and the other merely one of friendship, we are said to be in a zone of twilight, a dimension of sound, sight and mind, a land of both shadow and substance of both things and ideas. Bemis v. American Spectacle Company, 64 F.2d 1, 8 (9th Cir. 1959) Some commentators have dubbed this zone of twilight the “friendship zone,” a confusing title, as this murky area has more complications than those caused by the parties merely being friends. It requires careful judicial analysis.

3. The last zone is relevant when the two parties both recognize that their relationship is one of a platonic nature and the chance for romance is at its nadir. The two should therefore not embark on a romantic venture, unless, of course, the two are both being ignorant of a deep-seated affection that everyone else sees as prima facie love.  Burns v. Albright, 26 F. 2d 189, 200 (S.D.N.Y. 1989).

I believe this case to be in the second zone, where a court must tread carefully. If we were deciding this case, we would explore various aspects of the relationship in question and do an in-depth, fact intensive inquiry into the amount of subtle flirting and other come-hither cues exhibited by the parties.

However, due to the considerations mentioned by Justice Marshall, I agree we should not grant relief at this time. The case is not ripe for consideration.

Annual Boone County Fair Farm and Livestock Competition: BEET DIVISION JUDGE MARGERY SAMUELSON (dissenting)

I must respectfully dissent from my colleagues.

Beets are judged on a variety of factors.  Plumpness, weight and taste. Sometimes a beet is very plump with a great weight but has a horrible taste. This was the case with my neighbor Mrs. Bamgert, who, in addition to being a bad gardener, also is woefully deficient in her PTA duties. (However I will refrain from filling the Federal Register with Mrs. Bamgert complaints because believe me I could write them until the cows returned to their domiciles). It seems to me that none of other justices properly evaluated any of the important beet factors when responding to the presented inquiry. I would remand to the lower courts to explore the respective parties’ plumpness, weight and taste.


I believe the precedent underlying this case to be misguided. Columbia University’s first disciplinary code, established in 1801, clearly laid out that any unmarried students “engaged in heavy petting, smoochiecoos, or wistful stares” should be expelled immediately.  When the Law School was founded in 1858, the school adopted this disciplinary code. We should not depart from the history that has made this institution great, and I therefore believe that all parties should be expelled immediately.


Dear Justice 1

[1] [Ed. Note: Smoochiecoos was an early 19th Century term for kissing.]

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 11.52.35 AM

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed

Muck Mail