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  • Writer's pictureTommy Sangchompuphen

Taylor Swift's "Anti-Hero" and "Anti" on the Bar Exam

When the next Billboard’s Adult Pop Airplay chart is released, Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer” will top the list dated August 26.

With “Cruel Summer,” Swift passed P!nk for the most chart toppers (a total of 11) among soloists in the history of Billboard’s Adult Pop Airplay chart. Among all acts, only Maroon 5 has had more Number 1 hits, with a total of 15.

Swift is no stranger to topping the Adult Pop Airplay chart, which began in Billboard’s pages in March 1996. The chart measures songs’ weekly plays, as tabulated by Mediabase and provided to Billboard by Luminate, on about 80 adult Top-40 radio stations around the country.

Swift’s other chart-toppers, beginning with the longest stays at the top position, are:

“Anti-Hero,” nine, 2022-23

“Shake It Off,” eight, 2014

“Blank Space,” six, 2015

“Delicate,” four, 2018

“Wildest Dreams,” four, 2015

“Willow,” three, 2021

“Bad Blood,” three, 2015

“Karma,” two, 2023

“Style,” two, 2015

“Cruel Summer,” one (to date), 2023

“I Knew You Were Trouble,” one, 2013

Now, I know this is a bar prep blog, so what’s the tie-in here?

“Anti-Hero” is Swift’s longest-topping song on the Billboard’s Adult Pop Airplay chart at nine weeks.

What legal concepts begin with “anti” that you should know for the bar exam?

Two immediately come to mind: anti-lapse statutes and anti-discrimination legislation.

Anti-lapse statutes:

Anti-lapse statutes are laws enacted in every state that prevent bequests from lapsing when the intended beneficiary has relatives covered by the statute. Without the statutes, if someone were to bequeath something to an intended beneficiary and the beneficiary dies before the testator, the gift would lapse (or fail). This means that the gift would be distributed amongst the rest of the testator's estate as if the gift never occurred. Anti-lapse statutes prevent this from occurring in many circumstances involving relatives.

Anti-lapse statutes have been tested at least three times since 2008 on the Multistate Essay Examination—most recently in Question 5 on the July 201 bar exam.

In the essay question—a Wills question—the facts provided examinees with the following anti-lapse statute: “State A’s anti-lapse statute provides in its entirety: ‘Unless the decedent’s will provides otherwise, if a bequest is made to a beneficiary who predeceases the decedent leaving issue surviving the decedent, the deceased beneficiary’s share passes to the issue of the deceased beneficiary.’” The The essay question and a “representative good answer” are posted on the Minnesota Board of Law Examiners’ website.

Anti-discrimination legislation:

Anti-discrimination legislation was specifically tested on the Multistate Essay Examination on the July 2020 bar exam. The exam question (Question 6 on the July 2020 bar exam) can be found on the Arkansas Judiciary’s website (along with what the Arkansas Judiciary considers to be some of the “best answers” to that and other bar exam essay question).

That essay question (a Real Property essay) expressly tested examinees’ knowledge of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or disability in the sale or rental of a dwelling.

The July 2020 question specifically asked examinees to determine whether a property owner violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent to men and lawyers. The fact pattern included the following language in an advertisement in the local newspaper: “Two 2-bedroom apartments for rent. Only professional women (but not lawyers) need apply.” The facts also indicated that the owner told prospective male renters that she “[does] not rent to men.”

In this situation, the owner’s refusal to rent to men and her statements to the men that she didn’t rent to men were discriminatory under the Fair Housing Act. Nonetheless, there was no liability for this behavior. The Act doesn’t prohibit discrimination based on occupation. Thus, the owner’s refusal to rent to lawyers didn’t violate the Fair Housing Act.

The same question further asked whether the owner or the newspaper publisher violated the Fair Housing Act by publishing the owner’s rental advertisement. The answer is that both (the owner and the newspaper publisher) violated the Fair Housing Act, which, in part, makes it unlawful to publish any advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of property that discriminates on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.


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