When the Supreme Court announced its decision Wednesday on whether a fisherman should be charged under Wall Street regulatory laws, Justice Elena Kagan decided to include an unusual judicial argument: Dr. Seuss.
In 2007 in Florida, law enforcement officials confronted fisherman John Yates, saying he had caught several red groupers that were too small. Mr. Yates then tossed the fish overboard. But he was charged under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which sought to punish the destruction of physical evidence in wake of the Enron scandal where accountants shredded thousands of documents.
In a 5-4 decision announced Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that the law was meant to apply only to records or information documents.
But in her dissent, Justice Kagan argued that fish should be included in the “tangible object” category of evidence the law describes.
“A fish is, of course, a discrete thing that possesses physical form,” she wrote. “See generally Dr. Seuss, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (1960).”
During oral arguments in November, things sometimes took a turn for the absurd, as justices debated the legal nature of fish and whether a fish could count as a record if information was carved into its scales.