Grammatical twist in yet another SCOTUS opinion

Victor aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 5 12:52:02 UTC 2009

Justice Breyer, in his opinion in the case of identity theft laws
applying to illegal immigration cases, invoked "ordinary English
grammar" as the determinant. IMO it's a bit of a stretch to call it
"ordinary grammar", but that's another story entirely.

A part of the NYT story:

 >Justice Stephen G. Breyer, in his opinion for the court, said the case
should be decided by applying “ordinary English grammar” to the text of
the law, which applies when an offender “knowingly transfers, possesses
or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another
 >The government had argued that the “knowingly” requirement applied
only to the verbs in question. Justice Breyer rejected that
interpretation, saying that “it seems natural to read the statute’s word
‘knowingly’ as applying to all the subsequently listed elements of the
 >He gave examples from everyday life to support this view. “If we say
that someone knowingly ate a sandwich with cheese,” Justice Breyer
wrote, “we normally assume that the person knew both that he was eating
a sandwich and that it contained cheese.”

The American Dialect Society -

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