“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Mahatma Gandhi.
I. Being “Bickeled”
It is the practice in some law schools to enjoin students never to use the
passive voice. The fact that many of the great works of American legal
literature, from Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous
The Path of the Law
The Morality of Law
are replete with passive constructions is
something to which those proffering such advice are apparently completely
oblivious. In fact, some verbs work much better in a passive construction.
Imagine re-casting the magisterial prose of the Declaration of Indepen-
dence with purely active verbs:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are cre-
ated equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the
pursuit of Happiness
Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport, Florida.
(rev’d. ed., 1969).