Photo Credit: frankpierson's photostream per Creative Commons license.

Photo Credit: frankpierson’s photostream per Creative Commons license.

A Supreme Court Justice, a Circuit Judge, and District Judge go duck hunting together. A large flock flies over the three jurists at a very high altitude, but just within reach of their fancy shotguns.

Of course, the Justice goes first.  As the Justice aims the shotgun, she ponders the broad policy implications of shooting ducks. How will the environment be impacted? After ruminating on that subject, and concluding that the harm is de minimis, the Justice shoots and misses.

The Circuit judge goes next. As the Circuit judge pumps the shotgun, he applies a five-part test to determine whether shooting ducks is consistent with the precedents. After concluding that the analytic favors shooting, the Circuit Judge discharges the weapon but misses badly.

Immediately thereafter, and without any hesitation, the District Judge shoots and two plump bodies thump into the water near the blind.  As the other two marvel at the District Judge’s prowess, and offer their hearty congratulations, the deadeye jurist exclaims: “I sure hope those damn things are ducks!”


PS Thanks to a Nebraska Admiral, an ugly truck owner and, indirectly, Justice Sotomayor.

6 responses

  1. I don’t know why you stopped the story in the middle. Here is the rest:

    The three walked over to look at the fallen ducks. They found a dead bird and an injured one. The injured bird claimed that it was not a duck but the endangered Talking Hornbill and should be set free. The District Judge said it looks like a duck to him. The bird then entreated the Circuit Judge to set him free. He agreed saying that while he greatly admires the District Judge’s skill and experience in observing the demeanor of the bird – it should be set free for it is not quacking like a duck.

    The Justice called his eight friends and asked for advice. One said there was no textual support for the premise that Talking Hornbills should not be killed. Two conceded that there may be a general rule that Talking Hornbills should not be killed but, where as here, the bird did not speak up before being shot, the objection was untimely. One said any error was harmless since while the bird was shot, it was not killed. The rest agreed that the proper way to determine if it was a duck, was to observe if it can do at least two of the three part looks,quacks,walks test first enunciated in the slaughter house cases.

    By then, the district judge had reflected and decided that his initial opinion was incorrect but he was not sure if he had the power to do anything about it while the Circuit Judge was still thinking how the bird can walk on water. Meanwhile, the bird died of excessive bleeding and general despondency.

    To this day, the three judges cannot agree if the bird was really a duck. But, they are unanimous, that it was delicious.

  2. TF,

    Thanks so much. I really liked the part where the district judge reconsidered. But the best part is also the sad part–“Meanwhile, the bird died of excessive bleeding and general despondency.”

    And, to square the circle,

    Seeing the tortured carcass, and ruminating on what it’s like to be a district judge, the sensitive jurist exclaimed, but to no one in particular, “Poor duckie. Shit happens.”


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