“Elena Kagan revealed at the Aspen Ideas Festival that she recently joined her colleague Antonin Scalia on a friendly hunting trip—and even shot a deer… Scalia was not impressed: “She ended up killing a white-tailed doe,” he has noted, “which she could have done in my driveway.”
–Slate, July 2, 2013
In an interview with NPR, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that he had recently gone waterfowl hunting after meeting with his new clerks. That afternoon on the Chesapeake Bay, he shot 15 snow geese from a canoe in just under an hour. This had to be a record, he bragged. His fellow Justice, Antonin Scalia, was nonplussed. “Psh. I could bag twice as many geese,” he noted, “just parking my car in downtown DC.”
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Chief Justice John Roberts told BBC News that he had once spent a week on a friend’s small farm. While there, the area farms were plagued by a pair of coyotes which were massacring any chickens they could get a hold of. Justice Roberts and his host were fed up and stayed up all night and killed the interlopers. Justice Robert had shot one on the run, a near-impossible shot with a rifle.
Justice Scalia, noting first his deep respect for the Chief Justice, scoffed and said that the story is “more dubious than the meat in the Justice Department cafeteria’s hot dogs.”
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Speaking with Anderson Cooper, Justice Sonia Sotomayor revealed that she had once killed a capybara while on a trip in Paraguay. Tagging along on a friend’s hunt, she shot the animal on a riverbank with a compound bow. She motioned to the pelt hanging framed on the wall behind her in her chambers.
Walking by and peeking into her open door, Justice Scalia laughed. “A capybara? Please, those are just glorified rats,” he said, making air quotation marks with his hands. “A child could ‘hunt’ an ‘animal’ that big in any major US subway system.”
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In a Parade Magazine feature, Justice Samuel A. Alito said that while it was a startling moment, it wasn’t the worst scare he received in his life. That, he said, would be the time he had fought and killed an elk with his pocket knife. On a hike through Yellowstone National Park, an elk had surprised him and his family and Alito sprang into a fit of startled violence. The Justice charged and wrestled the elk to the ground, finally dispatching it with his pocket knife.
Across the table, Justice Scalia didn’t seem very interested. He chuckled and said “Look, if an elk is startled, you can basically kill them with a hardcover book, like my 1998 classic, A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law.”
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Justice Anthony M. Kennedy talked on The View about the only time he had gone hunting. He had sat hunched in a tree stand for hours, exposed to the elements through a raging snow squall. His patience was rewarded when he spotted and shot a five-point buck. But the trail out was too treacherous in the storm, so Justice Kennedy had to field-dress the kill and fend off scavenging vultures and wolves for four hours until the storm passed. Only then could he drag his prize out of the woods.
Justice Scalia rolled his eyes, saying, “Anyone could sit through a snowstorm with the fancy Gortex get-up he has. And a five-point buck is really just a house cat with overgrown ears.”
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Speaking with the New York Times, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suddenly grew very quiet. “Yes, I have broken one significant law,” she said, “in a momentary crisis of my faith in my law career. To clear my head and find myself, I took a rather unique cruise into international waters.”
Justice Ginsberg composed herself. “I hunted a young man, a human being, through the maze-like holds of a giant decommissioned oil tanker while wealthy gamblers bet on the outcome. Our cat-and-mouse chase ended on the wet deck. He had already shot me in the arm and so I had abandoned my rifle. But luckily, I suppose, I got the drop on him in the moonlight and I finished him off with my British Service Model Colt .455 caliber.”
“That trip…hunting the deadliest prey is one of my great regrets,” she said, “and remedying that moral transgression is what has motivated me to improve the lives of my fellow Americans throughout my career.”
The stunned crowd fell silent. The only sound came from Justice Scalia: “In the 1950s an extralegal human hunting party was about as daring as someone today sending a tweet to a celebrity they have never met.” The gathered law students gasped as Ginsberg ripped off her lapel microphone and slugged Scalia.
Before passing out, Scalia quipped, “of course she could pop me with a cheap shot. At my age, too much cayenne has the same effect.”
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]
James Folta is a writer, comedian, and carpenter living in Brooklyn. He has published writing for McSweeney's, Esquire, Narrative.ly and others. Find his tweets at @JamesFolta or more writing at jamesfolta.com.