Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann cited a quote from the cult film “The Big Lebowski” in a legal decision last month.
It was a freedom of speech appeals case, in which Andrew Barnes wrote on two websites that Robert Kinney had been implicated in a kickback scheme while he was Barnes’ employee. Kinney sued and demanded a permanent injunction against the allegedly defamatory statements.
“The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is similarly suspicious of prior restraints,” wrote Justice Lehrman in the decision highlighting a cornerstone that has “been reaffirmed time and again by the Supreme Court, this Court, Texas courts of appeals, legal treatises, and even popular culture.”
That last reference to popular culture contained an interesting footnote citing none other than Walter Sobchak, a character in the 1998 film. This is the footnote:
“For your information, the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint!” Sobchak says in the movie, before continuing: “This affects all of us, man! Our basic freedoms!”
Here’s the scene from the film (language warning):
Correction: An earlier version of this post said the case was from January. It was originally argued back then, but the actual opinion was delivered in August.
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