5 Spider-Man References In SCOTUS' Ruling

by Lauren Holter

We all love the Notorious RBG, but another justice has won over our hearts with a little humor. Justice Elena Kagan hid Spider-Man Easter eggs throughout the Kimble v. Marvel decision released Monday. The decision itself probably won't affect most people — it refuses to overrule an old decision that prevents patentees from collecting royalties after the patent expires, even if there was an agreement that the royalties would continue. Since the case was specifically about a toy that imitated Spider-Man, Kagan took full advantage of the opportunity to make the court's opinion more playful than usual.

Even SCOTUS' blog post on the Kimble v. Marvel decision was sassy. It said: "The Court was encouraged to overrule that precedent because it doesn't make much economic sense. The Court said it would adhere to its old rule anyway." The justices must be getting bored with their normal serious tone and legal jargon. Hopefully this means the highly anticipated same-sex marriage ruling will have a little extra flare too.

Everyone enjoys a good Easter egg hunt, and this was the ultimate challenge since Kagan's references blend in perfectly with the surrounding words. Here are all the hidden Spider-Man references in Kagan's Kimble v. Marvel opinion.

On Imitating Spider-Man

Kagan wasted no time hiding mentions of Spider-Man in the opinion. On page two, she threw in a joke about acting like the superhero, writing, "as long as kids want to imitate Spider-Man (by doing whatever a spider can)."

On Superpowers

By page three, Kagan got more sneaky, simply using the word "superpowers" where another, more formal, word would have normally been.

On Superpowered Stare Decisis

Once again, Kagan joked about superpowers, calling this form of stare decisis (the legal principle of determining points according to precedent) "superpowered." If you thought Spider-Man jokes and stare decisis could never be used in the same sentence, you were wrong, my friend.

On A Web Of Precedents

This Easter egg is perhaps the best hidden, since the reference lies in a tiny three-letter word that could easily be overlooked. By "a whole web of precedents" Kagan clearly means a whole spider web.

On Great Power

At the end of the decision, Kagan got even more confident in her humor and included a whole quote from the comic book. Kagan, you are my new hero (err, superhero).

Images: The Supreme Court (5)