Sullivan v. Abraham

Opinion boxSteed, J., dissenting.

The text matters. Words matter. Punctuation matters. But we have to ask ourselves: At what point does a devotion to strict textualism become an elaborate game of pretend?

Here, the Texas Legislature clearly stated the meaning it meant to convey in this particular provision of the Texas Citizens Participation Act. But the majority has decided that the most reliable indicator of the Legislature’s intended meaning is not what the Legislature said about its intended meaning. Instead, under the guise of textualism, the majority has decided that the clearest indicator of the statute’s intended meaning is the Legislature’s comma usage.

I cannot bring myself to join the majority in pretending that the Texas Legislature was so purposed and precise in its punctuation that it meant to undo its stated intentions by omitting a comma. Therefore, I must respectfully dissent.

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Mullenix v. Luna

Opinion boxSteed, J., dissenting.

Construing the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, as we must, here’s what happened:

Israel Leija, Jr., sped away from police onto an empty country highway. (There was a warrant for his arrest from a motion to revoke his misdemeanor probation.) Officers coordinated their pursuit. Spike strips were strategically placed at three locations on the empty road ahead. In short, Leija’s apprehension seemed imminent. There was no perceivable risk of harm to the public because the highway was deserted. There was no risk of harm to other officers because they were either pursuing at a safe distance or off the road, awaiting Leija’s encounter with the spike strips. And there was certainly no risk to Officer Mullenix, who was perched alone on an overpass, like a sniper.

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DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia

Opinion boxSteed, J., dissenting.

Because I, too, would read the parties’ agreement “to give the customer, not the drafter, the benefit of the doubt”—and because  I, too, “would take no further step to disarm consumers, leaving them without effective access to justice”—I join JUSTICE GINSBURG’s dissenting opinion. See ante, at 1. I write separately because I believe the parties’ arbitration agreement is unenforceable for a separate reason.

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Steed, J.

One of the things I’d like to do on this blog, as a writing exercise, is to draft my own short “opinions” in Supreme Court cases. It’s just for fun—like I said, a writing exercise. And it’s fortuitous that my first name starts with “J.”