Verb. Sap.:

Didn't know of this Latin abbreviation until I ran across it in Justice Scalia's Youngblood v. West Virginia dissent today. It's apparently short for verbum sapienti, which means "a word to the wise [is enough]." Learn something new every day; I can't say I'm likely to use it in my own prose, but at least now I'll understand it when I see it elsewhere.

Mr. Bingley (www):
Many a time I've been a noun: sap.
6.19.2006 7:55pm
te (mail):

Even when we suspect error, we may have many reasons not to grant certiorari outright in a case such as this— . . . even a neo-Victorian desire to keep the lurid phrases of the "graphically explicit note," ante, at 1, out of the U. S. Reports.

I haven't had my afternoon coffee yet, so did Scalia actually write that a desire to keep naughty words out of the record is an acceptable reason to deny cert?
6.19.2006 8:29pm
Fern R (www):
How did you find out that Justice Scalia authored that opinion? I thought it was a per curiam opinion?
6.19.2006 10:35pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
No; Scalia authored a dissent to the per curium opinion, Fern. (As did Kennedy, btw.)
6.19.2006 11:37pm
The song "Cursum Perficio" on the album Watermark by New Age singer Enya contains these lines:

Verbum sapiente, eo plus cupiunt
Quo plus habent, eo plus cupiunt

A word to the wise, the more they want
The more they have, the more they want

I have absolutely no clue if this phrase was what Scalia had in mind. But it does seem to fit in with the dissent's basic message.
6.20.2006 12:13am
More shocking than Scalia's use of obscure latin, is his suggestion in dissent that a lower court ignore the guidance of the Court.

Am I the only one completely blown away by this one?
6.20.2006 10:08am
smc78 (mail):
default: perhaps I missed it, where does he suggest that? It isn't at all clear to me that he didn't want to just grant cert and review the case for error. His issue seemed to be with vacating the judgment without reason to do so. It's an interesting argument, but I don't see him suggesting anyone ignore the guidance of the court... particularly any guidance that is binding on the lower court.
6.20.2006 11:46am
Goober (mail):
Huh. I had always thought that the English "a word to the wise is sufficient" was a Pope quote, but it does appear to have originated in the Latin---from a play named Phormio, by Terence. (God bless the internets.)
6.20.2006 12:58pm
te (mail):

I suppose it would be available to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, on remand, simply to reaffirm its judgment without further elaboration. Or it could instead enter into a full discussion of the Brady issue, producing either a reaffirmance or a revision of its judgment. The latter course will of course encourage and stimulate our new "GVR-in-light-of-nothing" jurisprudence. Verb. sap.
6.20.2006 1:37pm
te (mail):
When we look back in a few years after Scalia has been impeached and removed from the court, I wonder if we will be able to peg this as the point when he jumped the shark?
6.20.2006 2:03pm
Stan Labrat (mail):
In my Jesuit high school days, I learned it as "Verbum Sap. Sat." -- short for verbum sapitentibus satis, which seems more elegant. Perhaps the Justice is trying to bring back Latin in more than just the Catholic liturgy!

(If he starts writing A.M.D.G. at the beginning of his opinions, we'll all really be in trouble!)
6.20.2006 2:25pm
Ken Summers (mail):
I prefer Isaac Asimov's translation:

Verbum sapienti: "Anyone who needs to be told this in words is a thoroughgoing sap"
6.20.2006 4:56pm
Thank you te. You've made my day.
6.20.2006 5:33pm
BobN (mail):
Technically, doesn't using Latin quotes qualify as referring to foreign -- worse yet, European! -- legal authorities?
6.20.2006 6:09pm
te (mail):
The agitator has an interesting post re how scholar quoted by Scalia is "horrified" by his words being taken out of context. Here's link:

Setting aside Scalia intellectual dishonesty here, I was even more surprised by his reliance on a snippet from a scholarly article. If it is verboten to quote foreign legal decisions and legislative history - what possible justification can there be for quoting a scholarly article. I don't think the article was peer-reviewed and there is no indication in the opinion that the article would get past Daubert analysis.
6.21.2006 2:00pm
te (mail):
6.21.2006 2:01pm