Dear Justice: Social or Economic Change of Some-kind Law Students Association (SECSLSA) v. Margot Annet

Dear Justice assembles the greatest judges of all time to settle important cases for the Columbia Community. Today these great sages of the law consider the case of:


Social or Economic Change of Some-kind Law Students Association (SECSLSA)
Margot Annet


Justice Hand (1)
Illustrated by Alex Wang

Judge LEARNED HAND delivered the opinion of the Court:

This case involves a time old problem at law schools across the country. Petitioner is a student group dedicated to bettering and educating the community. Pursuant to this goal, they regularly host speakers to discuss various issues. These discussions are held during lunchtime, and petitioners purchase a lunch, typically pizza, to accompany the event. The action for this case arose when defendant, one Margot Annet, came to petitioner’s event, grabbed a lunch (in this case barbeque), and then left to go read for a later class. Petitioner sued for the lost lunch.

When considering such cases, a court must consider three variables: (1) The probability that the lunch event will be filled; (2) the value of the lunch in question; (3) the burden on the student attending the lunch event. Possibly it serves to bring this notion into relief to state it in algebraic terms: if the probability of attendance be called A; the value of the lunch V and the burden of staying for the lunch B; liability depends upon whether B is less than V multiplied by A i.e. V*A>B.

In this case the lunch event featured a prominent judge, and was the incredibly valuable Dinosaur BBQ. While defendant’s burden of not being able to read for class was not insignificant, it cannot be more than a fully attended Dinosaur BBQ lunch. Many hungry students would have gladly taken the defendant’s plate and sat through the lunch. Defendant should have settled for pizza.


Judge BRANDEIS and Justice HOLMES (concurring):

The defendant is liable in the year 2014 for the tort of taking a lunch that was offered her and choosing where to eat it. Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. And they knew that this liberty must encapsulate the right to eat what lunch one pleases where they wish to eat it, for our founders knew that the wishes of the stomach were of the highest order for free men.

And our forefathers had seen what could happen when a government restrained the appetite of its people. They feared the tyranny of the British, with their rigid rules of what time to take meals, and the complicated etiquettes of teatime or supper often enforced by the sword. So our founders endeavored to create a free country, a nation where men could eat as they please. And our nation has flourished because of their foresight.

It was our forefathers that took the ancient traditions of breakfast and lunch and combined them into brunch; it was our forefathers who turned sausages into hot dogs, steaks into hamburgers. All across our great land, from the cheese-whizzed steak sandwiches of Philadelphia to the queso-drenched nachos of Houston, the greasy bell of freedom rings. We are the nation that has cooked ducks into chickens and chickens into turkeys. We are the nation that made yogurt bright blue and then put it in tube. We are the nation that has fried butter.

And this freedom would mean nothing if the time and manner of our meals were constrained. For what good would a Cheesy Gordita Crunch be if you could not eat it in your car? What good would a hot dog be if not consumed at a ballpark? How could one truly enjoy their morning Diet Coke if they could not drink it for breakfast? And imagine if bacon and eggs could not be consumed when the sun went down. This is America, where every place is a table and every hour of the day is a meal.

In close conjunction with this fundamental right of eating, is the right of free food.  Our founders knew firsthand the power of free meals. Benjamin Franklin himself was known to wander the streets of Philadelphia eating free food from events from which he did not intend to stay. During the early 19th Century, Jefferson and Hamilton for all their differences would often take time out of their day to eat of samples at local DC markets with no intentions to buy the product offered. And when these founders endeavored to create our Constitution, they viewed free food and freedom as two sides of the same coin.

This court cannot take our sacred dining rights and put them into a mere formula to calculate the “maximum welfare”. Americans should be allowed to eat whatever they please, whenever they please, except for the egregious and rare circumstances when this taking of meals puts our entire society in imminent danger.

Yet, this is a case of imminent danger against society, and taking Dinosaur BBQ from a popular lunch event violates even the broad freedoms afforded to us by our founders. If everyone were to behave in such a way, lunch events would descend into anarchy. With no restraints, the always competitive and often violent law students would likely resort to force and kill each other for the last piece of rib or brisket. All throughout our nation’s institutes of legal education, blood and barbeque sauce would mix in a pool of destruction. There would be no more lawyers, and the rule of law in this country would collapse overnight. Anarchy would ensue, and global civilization would fall, because defendant refused to take from a pizza lunch. This restraint on eating is a necessary evil to protect this great country which is I why I concur in the judgment of the court.

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