The Supreme Court of Monty Python
Blog post written for and on behalf of The Good Man.
Late last week we all got the news that the Supreme Court had handed down their opinions regarding both the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Prop 8. There was much news coverage all around as same sex couples are now allowed to marry and receive federal benefits.
As in any Supreme Court case, there is the majority opinion and the dissenting opinion. Each must be written up as a point of record.
In the instance of DOMA, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and it was Justice Antonin Scalia who wrote up the dissenting opinion. I actually made it a point to read Justice Scalia’s opinion as I was interested to hear what points he might make in his dissenting case.
What I got was a blast of vitriol, indignation and sarcasm.
My favorite line in the whole piece, however, was this:
“As I have said, the real rationale of today’s opinion, whatever disappearing trail of its legalistic argle-bargle one chooses to follow…”
Did he…did a Justice of the Supreme Court of these United States just use the term “argle-bargle”? Is that for real?
I looked around and confirmed in several spots that indeed, yes, the term argle-bargle is now a part of the legal and constitutional history of our country.
So of course I immediately sent this over to The Good Man. We are both big fans of the television show Boston Legal which often featured a doddering old judge (played to perfection by Shelly Berman) who would use terms like “stop all this jibber-jabber” and then proclaim “I am the decider!”
So good they made a meme
But it was The Good Man who reached even farther back into the folds of his brain and pulled out an audio recording he remembered from his youth.
On an album entitled “Monty Python’s Previous Record” released in 1972, there is a track named “Teach Yourself Heath”.
In the track, the Python crew mocks the accent style of British conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath. This would be something akin to the Saturday Night Live tradition of sending up the US President.
Click here to give it a listen if you wish. It’s at about the 3:22 mark (for reasons unknown this clip is subtitled in Spanish):
In the clip, the phrase argy-bargy is used. A short Google search shows that argy-bargy is a rather low-brow bit of British slang used to describe a lively discussion or vigorous dispute.
So this begs the question: Did Justice Scalia really use modified British pub slang in his dissenting arguments?
Is he just a big ol’ Monty Python nerd?
Either way, it’s pretty fascinating. Usually American politicians tend to shy away from anything British, especially anything relating to British politics.
As we get very near the day of celebrating our independence from the King of England, Justice Scalia went all Monty Python. (Do you think he has his own funny walk under that robe?)
‘Merica! With a British twang.
Judge Robert Sanders photo found here and Monty Python photo found here.