Star Trek has been influential in pop culture and society for over four decades, but now it has gone a step farther to becoming a legal precedent. In a new ruling, the Texas Supreme Court has specifically cited the "the needs of the many…" axiom from Star Trek II. Details below, plus exclusive reaction from Wrath of Khan writer/director Nicholas Meyer.
Star Trek makes law
In a ruling on Robinson v. Crown Cork and Seal, an asbestos lawsuit, the Texas Supreme Court struck down a lower court decision and declared a provision of recent legislation to be unconstitutional. As explained by the South East Texas Record, the court found that the legislature should not enact a law which in effect protected a single company.
Appropriately weighty principles guide our course. First, we recognize that police power draws from the credo that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Second, while this maxim rings utilitarian and Dickensian (not to mention Vulcan21), it is cabined by something contrarian and Texan: distrust of intrusive government and a belief that police power is justified only by urgency, not expediency.
And it gets better, footnote 21 reads:
See STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (Paramount Pictures 1982). The film references several works of classic literature, none more prominently than A Tale of Two Cities. Spock gives Admiral Kirk an antique copy as a birthday present, and the film itself is bookended with the book’s opening and closing passages. Most memorable, of course, is Spock’s famous line from his moment of sacrifice: “Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh . . .” to which Kirk replies, “the needs of the few.”
So apparently Justice Willett is a Trekkie. Could this kind of thing catch on? There have been a number of Star Trek related classes at colleges and universities, perhaps it is time for Star Trek to be taught at law school.
Spock explains how sacrificing himself is logical in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"
Earlier I emailed Star Trek II director Nicholas Meyer, who wrote the final draft of the script for the film, to get his reaction to this. Here is his reply:
It WOULD be the Texas Supreme Court…
Still, you’ve made my day!!
Thanks so much.
Live long, and prosper,
Thanks to SFWA for spotting this