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Solum on Recess Appointments
Mike Rappaport

Larry Solum has an excellent discussion of Eric Posner's critique of the distinction between "the" and "a."

Solum makes clear that the distinction can often be extremely important and informative (although whether it is depends on the context).  Solum's example is powerful:

Be sure to cite a case for that proposition." As opposed to "Be sure to cite the case for that proposition." The two sentences mean something entirely different.  The first one commands the use of some authority and suggests that there are multiple options; the second command directs the use of a particular case, the identity of which might be clear in context or provided in response to a follow up question.