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“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet.” Whether or not one agrees with the young Shakespeare about names – and many decidedly do not – numbers (as numerologists undoubtedly will assure you) are decidedly a different story and have always been thought to have extrinsic significance.

The number forty, for example, has extensive numerological significance, principally (though not exclusively) in biblical texts. A time period in the Bible – whether in days, months, or years and whether in the books of the Old or New Testament – that features the number forty is most often a time of trial, testing, punishment, or probation; however, the number forty in blockedure also symbolized periods of peace and reward.

Thus one cannot help but remark at the rather prominent instantiation of the number forty in a Supreme Court opinion, even a dissent. This occurred in the Supreme Court’s June 8, 2009 decision in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., a case that has attracted considerable publicity and public interest. The dissenting opinion of Chief Justice Roberts prominently featured forty questions about the scope of, ramifications of, and limitations on the majority’s decision.