Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


A Very Chutzpadik Justice

Yiddish meets the Supreme Court

Print Email
Justice Elena Kagan last fall.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Noting Elena Kagan’s remarkably well-written opinions, The New Republic’s Jeffrey Rosen cited this following quip from the newbie Supreme Court justice. “They are making a novel argument: that Arizona violated their First Amendment rights by disbursing funds to other speakers even though they could have received (but chose to spurn) the same financial assistance,” she said in her minority opinion of the winners of one case. “Some people might call that chutzpah.”

Is this the exasperated Yiddish word’s first appearance at the highest court in the land? It is not, and close court-watchers could actually guess which justice was the first to use it. It’s not Brandeis or Ginsburg or any of the Supreme Court’s other eight Jewish justices past and present. Rather, the feisty, Queens-born, extremely Catholic Antonin Scalia first deployed “chutzpah” in 1998, and in much the same way that Kagan did: “It takes a particularly high degree of chutzpah for the [National Endowment for Arts] to contradict this proposition,” he complained, “since the agency itself discriminates—and is required by law to discriminate—in favor of artistic (as opposed to scientific, or political, or theological) expression.” In both cases, “chutzpah” is negative; more precisely, it is a specific form of hypocrisy.

Yet, as Jack Achiezer Guggenheim quoted a New Jersey federal court soon after Scalia’s c-bomb in a fabulous article on the intersection of U.S. law and Yiddish, “Legal chutzpah is not always undesirable, and without it our system of jurisprudence would suffer.” In other words, that Brown fellow who sued the Topeka, Kansas, Board of Education certainly had chutzpah, too.

Strong Opinions [TNR]
The Supreme Chutzpah [Kentucky Law Journal/Jewish Law]

Print Email

I think it is a very valid point about the comments with a valid point to make. If all you are trying to do is build a truck full of backlinks with nothing to offer, what will make the reader come to your site whether no1 comment or no102. The idea of commenting has become a single battlefield for pro marketers to build their backlinks without using any brain power against people who are genuinely interested in getting their point across in a constructive way so the reader wants to visit their site to see what makes them tick.I have only been involved in the blogging sphere for a very short time, and I must say, I find the comments part of increasing frustration when just spammy trash is entered. However I think it works both ways.The blogger has to have the same comitment to reading the replies as to the original blog post, and to that end should ensure the replies are as valid as the content. The atmosphere is changing rapidly out in the consumer search arena, and if the bloggers don’t run with the virtues extolled, then they will find themselves disappearing as quickly as they rose.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

A Very Chutzpadik Justice

Yiddish meets the Supreme Court

More on Tablet:

Why Russia is No Place to Be Charlie

By Vladislav Davidzon — Moscow activists face jail as Kremlin allows counter-protest in Chechnya