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The Supreme Court Quoted A Comic Book And The Internet Loves It

What was expected to be a dull, technical ruling from the Supreme Court is now getting a lot of attention.

In a decision on Brulotte v. Thys Co., a case deciding if a toy inventor could collect royalties off a patent of a Spider-Man toy after that patent expired, the Supreme court quoted a famous line from a Spider-Man comic book.

In the opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, she used the quote to say that while the court could overrule an important but highly criticized past decision, it should not use its authority to do so.

“What we can decide, we can undecide. But stare decisis teaches that we should exercise that authority sparingly. Cf. S. Lee and S. Ditko, Amazing Fantasy No. 15: ‘SpiderMan,’ p. 13 (1962) (‘[I]n this world, with great power there must also come—great responsibility’). Finding many reasons for staying the stare decisis course and no ‘special justification’ for departing from it, we decline Kimble’s invitation to overrule Brulotte”

The man who invented the Spider-Man web blaster wanted to continue collecting royalties from Marvel after his patent expired, but the Supreme Court ruled against him 6-3.

The inventor only made it to the Supreme Court because he argued that the precedent for the case, the criticized Brulotte decision that prohibits collecting patents after seven years, should be overturned.

In the movie, which popularized the quote, the words come from Peter Parker’s uncle Ben. Parker later feels he is responsible for his uncle’s death, wracking him with guilt and reminding him of the importance of his uncle’s words.

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