The Chief Justice and Biblical Metaphors

by Ammon Simon

I have heard quite a few people describe the chief justice’s opinion by stating that he “split the baby.” It is commonly meant to convey that the Chief Justice split the difference between two putatively difficult positions, and it is a reference to a Biblical story in which King Solomon found a way to resolve a dispute between two women who claimed to be the true mother of the same baby. But, in the Biblical account, the baby was saved by a wise king who found a way to discern the truth and avoid the need to split anything. According to 1 Kings 3:16-28, Solomon’s solution was to pretend that the child would be split in two, with each mother taking one half. When he did this, the true mother was “deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, ‘Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!’” 

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