Cancellation by Citation
For many reasons, I don’t use the Bluebook. I have not opened a copy since I finished clerking. I try my best to put citations into a format that would allow the reader to locate the source. Beyond that bare minimum, I really don’t care whether a period is italicized. I let my research assistants use their best discretion to revise my footnotes. And, ultimately, the journals will put me through citation hell.
Would anyone defend the Bluebook as a matter of first principles? If we were writing on a blank slate, would anyone come up with every jot and tittle in the 21st Edition of the Bluebook? Like certain precedents, the Bluebook can only be defended based on principles of stare decisis and reliance interests. In Artis v. D.C., Justice Gorsuch observed, “Chesterton reminds us not to clear away a fence just because we cannot see its point. Even if a fence doesn’t seem to have a reason, sometimes all that means is we need to look more carefully for the reason it was built in the first place.” Sorry, G.K. Tear down this blue-painted fence.
Paradoxically, for most journals, style matters more than substance. Journals will seldom force authors to make substantive changes. Sure, editors will grouse about how the author presents arguments. But ultimately, they will relent if the author pushes back hard enough. (Don’t be afraid of standing firm; editors turn over every year and institutional memories are short).
For “style” changes, however, journals are uncompromising. They will resist even the slightest deviations from the Bluebook and local style guides. Want to add a Table of Contents or an Abstract (the only parts of an article most people will ever read)? Good luck if the style guide prohibits it. Object to so-called Harvard citations, where a single sentence has two footnotes to the same case? Sorry, you’re stuck. Want to upload a PDF for a document on ECF, so that readers do not have to pay a fee? You’ll need to fight the editors, because the bluebook does not sanction such a helpful link. And so on.
At bottom, style guides and citation manuals are systems of
Article from Latest – Reason.com