The Public Interest

The law’s delay: the dragon slain Friday breathes fire again Monday

Macklin Fleming

Summer 1973

FROM the days of Magna Carta, Shakespeare, and Dickens to those of Roscoe Pound, Arthur Vanderbilt, and Chief Justice Burger, a long-suffering public has vented its frustration and anger against the law’s delay. Most of the time sueh fulmination is routinely shrugged off by the legal profession with the comfortable rationalization that the general public doesnt understand the ways of the law and the problems involved. But periodically, as today, the law’s delay surfaces as a political problem that demands immediate action and solution. On such occasions there customarily materializes a resolute St. George in burnished armor, who, with sharpened sword and lance and with inspirational motto on shield and banner, launches, amid fanfare of trumpets, a campaign into the bog to track the dragon of delay to his lair. In due course, St. George returns, announces to the cheering villagers that the dragon has been slain, drawn, and quartered, and then claims the hand of the beautiful princess as his reward. Public attention turns to other matters, for the problem of the law’s delay has been solved. Yet within a short time the dragon reappears in his familiar haunts, as formidably entrenched as ever, breathing fire and spitting defiance at his adversaries.

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