The Verdict

BY

IN RE VALENTINES DAY, 118 REC. 4 (2004)

Chief Justice PETTINATO delivered the opinion of the Court. Justice DICK wrote a good-bye note concurring in part and whining about his pathetic life in part, which has been deleted due to space considerations and because he’s boring.

I. “Let me be clear that I have nothing against people in good healthy relationships, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means. Rather, what I hold against them are their romantic successes. Still, persuading one’s fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one’s views in absence of democratic majority will is something else. In other words, judicial activism is strictly the province of justices, not the people. Luckily, I am a justice.” From Beyond Good and Evil: An Autobiography by Chief Justice Pettinato.

II. There is nothing I hold more highly in the judicial profession than impartiality. Thus, to show my own ability to distance myself from my experiences and to make fair and balanced judgments, I begin this opinion outlawing Valentine’s Day with a personal anecdote.

III. This past Valentine’s Day, I awoke with a happy heart, which stood to reason considering Valentine’s Day is supposedly about making hearts happy. First thing that morning, I rushed over to the harkboxes to collect my carnations, but somebody had stolen them all and put them in other people’s boxes. I was so upset, I had the urge to run over to Gannett House and sit on the steps weeping. I was afraid the paparazzi would take my photo and use it for partisan purposes, however, so instead I defaulted to curling into the fetal position and clutching a bottle of Captain Morgan under a desk in the JOLT office. At first the people in the office seemed glad to have some female companionship and they let me stay for a few hours wimpering softly, but when I accidentally brushed against someone’s mousepad, they kicked me out.

Things began to look up when I got home and found that my boyfriend had sent me a package. I ripped it open and marveled at his cuteness in wrapping my present in some sort of legal document. I was too excited about the present to bother to read the paper, but I remember it said something about “violation of restraining order” and “1,000 feet” whatever that means – I don’t really understand legalese.

Imagine my delight when I ripped open the paper and saw that he had sent me an entire case of those candy hearts with the little messages on them. I hurriedly downed a few boxes to make sure they tasted ok, but then I accidentally dropped one out of the handfuls I was shoveling in my mouth, and I noticed that it said, “Go Away.” I opened another box and soon realized that he had had all of the candy hearts specially printed with his very own messages such as “Quit calling me,” “I hate you and wish you were dead,” and “Your face makes me want to set myself on fire.” I know it’s supposed to be the thought that counts, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed that he got me the same gift he’d given me for Christmas.

I finished the case of candy hearts, then went up to my dorm room to wash them down with some vodka. There were six messages on my answering machine and I rushed over assuming they were love poems from my boyfriend. No such luck. The first five messages were from Justice Dick. I listened to a few seconds of him blubbering something about “Nobody loves me,” “Even my parents don’t call me anymore,” “You’re my only true friend,” and “Call me back soon or I swear I’ll swallow these pills,” but that soon stopped being entertaining so I erased them. The last message was from Justice Torres wishing me a Happy V-Day and singing, “Cuuupid, draw back your boh-ooh-oh.” I rushed to the bathroom to vomit, and that’s when it hit me: Cupid is simply the pagan Roman name for the great Athenian God, St. Valentine. Thus, Valentine’s Day is a violation of the separation of Church and State!

IV. In order to find a way to support this conclusion, I decided to imitate the great Supreme Court Justices of the past and spend some time twisting the facts until they fit into the three prongs of the Lemon v. Kurtzman test. When this didn’t work, I followed the example of Justice Thomas in Mitchell v. Helms, and simply pretended that the Lemon test didn’t exist anymore. Instead, I applied his new, “It’s only a violation of church and state if God says it is,” test. Valentine’s Day has failed this test for reasons so obvious it would be nothing short of paternalistic, I daresay sacreligious, to outline them.

V. For these reasons, we hold this truth to be self-evident: that Valentine’s Day is a waste of law students’ hard-earned time and money.

Justice TORRES, dissenting

I. Valentine’s Day, in addition to being a manufactured event created by card and candy companies to steal hard-earned dollars from men, is also about something larger than buying love through gifts. It is about the inspiring story of a man named Valentine, who, contrary to my unlearned (or perhaps just drunk) colleague’s assertions, was not a pagan god but a Roman priest who gave his life in the service of his faith and his friends. Before his death, Valentine gave a note to his good friend, the jailer’s daughter, and signed it “from your Valentine.” The story of Valentine is therefore one of friendship.

II. I decided to make the most of this grand tradition behind the holiday and arranged for a date with some super people – my friends. They’re great people. Apparently, all my single friends were having a party but had forgotten to invite me. I think they assumed I would be busy going out on a date or something. And then when I showed up to the party they made me feel really special – they turned off the lights and fell really silent when I knocked at the door, trying to make it into a surprise party. But eventually they let me in and then the happening party really got underway. And what a party! I mean, what better way is there to spend a great holiday about love and friendship than with the people you care about? It is so obvious they care about me. Everyone cleared a wide swath around me on the dance floor so that I could show off my moves. And when we sat down to watch a movie, people were fighting to give me their seat, even though it meant they would have to sit far away from me. When I seemed a little tired, everyone asked about it and offered to pay for a cab ride home. Such care and concern cannot be bought with gifts I tell you!

III. Some people get sad when they have to spend Valentine’s Day without a special someone. But I look at the positive in it all. I spent a great evening with my friends; I didn’t spend money buying lavish gifts for a woman who would only end up betraying me by running off with Justice Dick, therefore leading to a mano a mano showdown between us where we both landed exactly one slap on each other before breaking down and crying, as happened last Valentine’s Day; and I didn’t have to resort to drowning out my sorrows through the bottle as some people did (not that I’m judging them, mind you, though I do question whether this indicates some deep rooted issues that perhaps throws into question their ability to be a Chief Justice – hypothetically speaking, of course).

IV. I’m happy with my singleness. Really, I am. I’m happy, I’m fun, I’m smart, and gosh darn it, people like me! Isn’t Valentine’s Day grand? I must therefore dissent and say that Valentine’s Day is a super great way for students to spend their time and money. I’m sure all my friends would agree with this, if you asked them. Of course, all their numbers have suddenly become unlisted, so it might take me a while to get you in touch with them, but trust me on this one…

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