Avoid Dense Prose
A mostly excellent brief recently filed in the Supreme Court flirted with loss of its audience in the dense prose of the very first substantive sentence of the brief:
The issue presented in this case — which arises under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, 5 U.S.C. § 7101, et seq. (“Federal Labor Statute”) — is whether the most basic policies of that Act should play any role in a major area of its administration, viz., in determining whether a union acting as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of federal sector employees — having been selected by those employees through the secret ballot electoral processes provided by federal law — is entitled to the disclosure of personnel records of bargaining unit employees when such disclosure is “necessary for the full and proper” performance of that representative‘s collective bargaining functions.
The writer of that sentence asked it to do too much. The sentence introduces too many concepts without a pause. By contrast, one of the authors a few years ago had a rare opportunity to use lively prose to make his point, which was that an Arkansas highway tax unconstitutionally discriminated against interstate commerce by exempting trucks carrying agricultural products (which were by no coincidence predominantly local), while fully taxing those carrying equally heavy shipments of other commodities (which came predominantly from out of state)
There is an old riddle: Which weighs more, a ton of feathers or a ton of bricks? While many find the question deceptive at first, the correct answer, that a ton is a ton regardless of what is being weighed, becomes irrefutably clear once explained. But in enacting and now defending the NR Exemption, the State has managed to get the answer wrong — a ton of soybeans or chicken feed is treated as though it weig