Let’s talk about Amy Coney Barrett and me. This is what we have in common: we are both female. We both adopted children overseas. We can both pronounce stare decisis, a legal term that has something to do with precedent.
Here’s how it’s pronounced: “STAR-ay deh-SIGH-sis.” It comes from a longer phrase that means, “stand by the thing decided and do not disturb the calm.”
It doesn’t matter how you pronounce it or if you are aware of the exact meaning because only .5% of the population really knows. That’s why I recommend you toss it into the conversation to impress people.
“So, how are things at your house, Wendy?” a friend asks me at a cocktail party.
“Oh, you know how it is,” I reply, sipping my red wine. “I was on the phone today with the veterinarian asking about my cat’s Prozac dose. ‘Do you think we should increase the dose to promote the stare decisis of his liver function, doctor?’”
(Yes, my cat really is on Prozac. Yes, my cat knows what stare decisis is. Yes, he rolls his eyes at me when I use the term incorrectly. But humans at cocktail parties are not as smart as cats. They’re not as sober as cats, either. So I recommend using the opportunity to show off.)
Stare decisis is Latin. You may think you don’t know much Latin, but have you ever said, “et cetera”? Vice versa? Now, is that, “vice-uh, vers-uh” or just “vice” like Miami Vice? I don’t know. But there’s always Carpe Diem (“seize the fish”) and Quid Pro quo (“this for that” – Quid is related to Squid: I’ll give you some carp, you give me some squid). Your last bit of Latin for the day is ad nauseum (don’t eat that squid casserole; it’s been sitting in the sun on the picnic table for six hours. It will make you sick.)
See what I mean? You, too, can impress your friends with your Latin knowledge. Of course, other foreign languages will do nicely as well. In French, the word for cat, chat, is pronounced “shah.” The word for more than one cat is chats and it’s pronounced “shah.” Spelled differently, pronounced the same. Because French was made up by a drunk person in a French café. Of course, English is no better. It was made up by a drunk person in an English pub. And Latin was made up by a Roman soldier in 200 B.C. in a pub. Also drunk.
I’m sure Judge Barrett drinks only in moderation. She said she indulged in a glass of wine one night after the hearing last week. Who could blame her after dealing with senators all day?
And here’s one more thing I have in common with Judge Barrett. We both know how to do laundry. And here’s something I DON’T have in common with a certain senator from Louisiana. I know when it’s inappropriate to ask a judge about her laundry.
If you have a stain on your shirt, before you throw it into the washer, rub a little stare decisis onto it.