The highest court in the United States has just heard argument in a case that could have far-reaching implications for Sudan and perhaps for other countries said to be sponsoring terrorism. It concerns amendments to a key piece of US legislation and whether these amendments could apply retroactively, in this case to Sudan. That state has withdrawn from the litigation, refusing to participate in any way.
Courts and court documents usually epitomise conservative, formal language. Even advocates of simple English find it difficult to persuade some courts and lawyers to dump unnecessary legalisms so that ordinary people can read and understand decisions and related documents. Argument in court by counsel tends to follow the same rule: ‘clean’ language, usually conservative rather than conversational.
But now and then there’s an exception.