Here’s a current events topic that combines my interests in immigration and grammar. Earlier this month the New York Times published an article on how the Supreme Court justices came to rule unanimously from different interpretations. It’s timely because today the President announced his first choice for the Court.
So this case protects illegal workers who use fake IDs to get jobs but denies protection when the same workers knowingly use the same IDs to commit other crimes.
The government 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 crime.”
And this is the part I like–where Justice Breyer cites examples from everyday life. “If we say that someone knowingly ate a sandwich with cheese, we normally assume that the person knew both that he was eating a sandwich and that it contained cheese.”…
Justice Breyer said the case should be decided by applying “ordinary English grammar.” Let’s see if “ordinary English” is overheard during the confirmation hearing.
Copyright The New York Times, May 4, 2009
Justices Limit Use of Identity Theft Law in Immigration Cases