We revere statutes and rules. They have the authority of government and the illusion of permanence. The common law may shift, but statutes and rules appear solid. For these reasons and, frankly, because of our timidity, we often introduce statutes and rules with the bland “As the statute says” or “As the rule says,” as if fearful of purporting to speak for the statute or rule rather than allowing it to speak for itself.

The following introduction to a Federal Rule appeared in a draft reply brief in support of a motion for consolidation. It consists of the bland statement that the Rule “provides,” followed by the text of the Rule:

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