Exclusively Online | Spring 2022 Issue

“A Lighter Look” — Welcome to Justice Jackson

Rick Meyer’s regularly appearing column takes a lighter look at politics and public affairs around the world. This month: Beer Pong.

By Richard E. Meyer

Overheard on the Supreme Court steps:

“Before you’re sworn in, Ketanji, you have to learn something.”

“Yes, Brett, what’s that?”

“How to play beer pong.”


“I won’t join your opinions unless you beat me at beer pong.”

“You’re kidding!”

“That’s what I learned in law school.”

“But Brett, in law school I learned legal reasoning and how to apply it to specific cases.”

“Here’s what I learned in law school. At each end of a table, you set up 10 red plastic cups in a triangle and fill them with beer. I went to Yale, so it was good beer. Most often it was Blonde Fatale.”

“That’s sexist.”

“You stand at one end of the table, and I stand at the other. We take turns tossing ping pong balls. You try to land your ping pong balls in my cups of Blonde Fatale, and I try to land mine in yours. If you land a ball in one of my cups, I have to drink the beer. If I land a ball in one of yours, you have to drink the beer. The winner is the one who makes the other justice drink 10 cups of beer.”

“Or the justice who can still stand.”

“That too.”

“This is how you make your decisions?”

“It sure is.”

“My impression was that justices vote on opinions.”

“Arc shots are the best. You throw gently, with your elbow. Fastballs can be tricky. Sometimes they knock over a cup, and then you get into an argument over whether it has to be refilled and whether the person whose cup it is has to drink the beer. I never argue. Just refill the cup, and I’ll drink the beer.”

“But in law school I learned that arguments can be good.”

“Here is what I learned: Never argue over spilled beer.”

“This is crazy!”

“I tried to organize a beer pong league. There could be tournaments with lower courts. It would be a good way to decide certiorari.”

“Is there such a league?”

“No. Everybody else was too busy going to class and reading law books.”

“That’s what I was doing.”

“Dull, huh?”

“No, I found it fascinating.”

“What I found fascinating was trying to put spin on the ping pong balls. You have to twist your elbow just a little. Not too much, but just enough to throw a curve ball.”

“A curve ball is an oral argument you don’t expect.”

“It’s more fun wondering if a ping pong ball is going to splash into a cup or spin off the table.”

“I won’t do this.”


The Last Laugh:

“It looks like Ketanji isn’t going to be much fun. She’s probably going to skip Beach Week, too.” – Andy Borowitz in The New Yorker.



Richard E. Meyer

Richard E. Meyer

Meyer is the senior editor of Blueprint. He has been a White House correspondent and national news features writer for the Associated Press and a roving national correspondent and editor of long-form narratives at the Los Angeles Times.

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