My friend Bill was on his way home from a big day of hiking in the mountains. He had a hankering for some iced tea, so he stopped at a small grocery store in the Sierra foothills and went in. A stout old lady sat behind the counter. Nobody else in the store.
The old lady watched Bill as he walked toward the cooler. He got his iced tea and brought it to the counter. He could tell from the look in the old lady’s eyes that something was trying to happen there.
Something did happen when he reached for his wallet and accidentally pulled out his Federal credential instead. A couple of crematorium fires were now kindled in the old lady’s pupils.
“Are you a revenue agent?” she asked darkly.
“No, Ma’am, I’m a judge.”
“What kind of judge?”
“Federal judge, Ma’am.”
“Are you in that Ninth Circuit?” She squinted at him, stoking the crematorium fires.
“Yes, Ma’am, and so are you.”
“Are you a liberal judge or a conservative judge?” The crematorium flames were flaring high.
“Ma’am, the Congress that you helped elect sometimes passes a liberal law and sometimes passes a conservative law. When I’m upholding a conservative law, I’m a conservative judge. When I’m upholding a liberal law, I’m a liberal judge.”
Dumbfounded silence. The crematorium fires now quite snuffed out.
My friend Bill paid for his iced tea and turned toward the door. Lastly, the old lady said: “Well, thank you for your service.”