Today during oral arguments First American Financial Corp. v. Edwards Justice Scalia admonished a lawyer who repeatedly used the word “nexus” in a brief, though thankfully used the word “connection” during arguments.
MR. YANG: There is also a threshold. Obviously, Congress can’t simply narrow the class of -of plaintiffs to say people with college degrees, or people who were born on a Monday. There needs to be a sufficient connection between the –
JUSTICE SCALIA: A nexus, right? Your brief is full of nexus.
MR. YANG: Would you — would you —
JUSTICE SCALIA: Legal jargon for “connection.”
MR. YANG: We’ll use “connection” here.
JUSTICE SCALIA: Lovely. Say connection, I might add. I love it. (Laughter.)
MR. YANG: We’ll say “connection.”
Althouse links to an excerpt from his book, Making Your Case where he expresses his dislike of the term nexus:
2. Don’t be boring! It’s the loser’s way to try to look legalistic.
Banish jargon, hackneyed expressions and needless Latin. By “jargon” we mean the words and phrases used almost exclusively by lawyers in place of plain-English words and phrases that express the same thought. Jargon adds nothing but a phony air of expertise. A nexus, for example, is nothing more or less than a link or a connection. And what is the instant case? Does it have anything to do with instant coffee? Alas, to tell the truth, it’s no different from this case or even here.
Once in Fed Courts we were talking about some opinion that used the word “nexus” and the Prof asked, what would Justice Scalia say? Of course, I had to raise my hand, and referred to his loathing of the word “nexus.” ha.