99 Problems

Today, playing the role of the scary black man, Jay-Z.

In a perfect dose of Friday news, a New York judge cited Jay-Z while allowing a lawsuit brought by public housing residents to continue against the City of New York.

The public housing residents and their visitors claim Fourth Amendment violations when visitors are detained as “trespassers” in public housing complexes. The city moved to kill the suit, but Judge Shira Scheindlin (S.D.N.Y. issued an 84-page opinion saying that the public housing residents could pursue their claims.

Normally, I throw my lot in with the segment of humanity who would rather be eating Brussels sprouts at a Phil Collins concert than reading 84-page public housing decisions. But Judge Scheindlin threw a Jay-Z reference into one of her footnotes. Fun! Unless you hate black people, in which case Judge Scheindlin is deeply subversive…

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If this Essay serves no other purpose, I hope it serves to debunk, for any readers who persist in believing it, the myth that locking your trunk will keep the cops from searching it. Based on the number of my students who arrived at law school believing that if you lock your trunk and glove compartment, the police will need a warrant to search them, I surmise that it’s even more widespread among the lay public. But it’s completely, 100% wrong.

– Professor Caleb Mason of Southwestern Law School, in a Saint Louis University Law Journal article that analyzes the legal issues in Jay-Z’s smash hip-hop hit, 99 Problems.