One of the oddest law journal practices is insisting on a footnote for everything, even the most trivial facts. Like “The sky is blue [footnote: see Looking Up, 2011].”That reminds me. My niece once wrote an essay for school in which she quoted a bit from the bible, naming the book, chapter and verse. When she got the essay back, something was scribbled on the margin in red ink:
For a long time, I thought my personal experience with this was the worst. I was once asked by a journal that will remain nameless to provide a citation to the specific part of Plato’s Republic where he talks about education. (Seriously.)
But now I’ve seen the ultimate. The following text and footnote appeared in a law review article that I’m reading for my dissertation, in a major law review (formatting changed in obvious ways).
Indeed, a written constitution may have the force of law.*
* See, e.g., Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 176–77 (1803) (treating the Constitution as legally enforceable and as the highest law of the land).
Yes, that’s right, someone actually felt the need to:
a) cite the oh-so-controversial proposition that constitutions are law;
b) cite Marbury v. Madison as authority for this; and
c) explain, in a journal whose readership is almost entirely people with U.S. law degrees, that Marbury v. Madison treated the Constitution like it was (shock!) law or something!