Speed-Dating With the Supreme Court | HumorOutcasts

Speed-Dating With the Supreme Court

November 13, 2017

In the case of Bilski and Warsaw v. Kappos, Justice Stephen Breyer asked counsel whether he could patent a method of teaching that would keep 80% of students awake and Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked if speed dating could be patented. 

The Wall Street Journal

As Marshal of the Supreme Court, my job is an important one, but there’s not a lot of variety.  Every day I say the same thing:  “Oyez, oyez, oyez: All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this honorable Court.”  Then I sit down.  That’s it.

Breyer:  “I find a Hawaiian shirt helps keep students awake.”


But last week, let me tell you, was something special.  It’s not often you see the kind of intellectual fireworks we heard in Bilski and Warsaw v. Kappos.  I talked to Justice Breyer afterwards, and he said he hadn’t seen anything like it since somebody set off a bottle rocket at a Harvard Law School 4th of July picnic.

Bottle rockets:  Another joy of youth, now proscribed by goody two-shoes regulators.


The question before the court was whether “business methods”, like keeping a bank open on Saturdays–duh–could be patented.  And Justice Breyer, let me tell you, for a former Harvard professor, he’s a pretty sharp guy.  He saw the business angle right away.

“Counselor,” he said, and there was an undertone of pecuniary self-interest in his voice, “under your argument, would I be able to patent a method of teaching law school that promised to keep at least 80% of students awake?”

“I don’t mind if you sleep, but please don’t drool.”


“Your Honor,” the lawyer replied, “if you can keep that many law students awake during a lecture on antitrust, it would be the greatest invention since canned beer.”

Canned beer, early experimental prototype


“Thanks, counselor, that’s just great,” Breyer said.  “You know, it’s not easy sitting up here day after day, listening to wing-tipped dweebs like you drone on and on, and not make as much money as a first-year associate at a Wall Street law firm.”

“I can understand your frustration,” the lawyer said.  “As a high-bracket taxpayer I’m not prepared to do anything about it, but I understand.”

“Counselor,” Justice Alito, interjected, and we all braced ourselves for a high-IQ onslaught.  He has a prodigous memory and can rattle off the actors and actresses who appeared in the Brady Bunch at the drop of a hat.  You have to take off your hat when you come into the Supreme Court, but I’ve seen him do it.


“Counselor,” Alito began, and nobody coulda guessed where he was headed.  “Don’t you think that some people, horse whisperers or others, might have some patentable insights into the best way to train animals?”

“You have horse breath.”


“Your honor,” the lawyer began, “with all due respect to Robert Redford, who did a great job in that movie . . .”

“I thought he was cute in The Way We Were,” Justice Ginsburg said by way of interruption.  Ruth’s like that–always butting in.

“As I was saying,” the lawyer continued, “I think horse whispering is overrated.  Anybody can talk to a horse, and in the case of Mr. Ed, the horse can even talk back, so I think it fails the test of obviousness.  Goldfish whisperers, now that’s another story.”

“You touch it, you play it.”


I’d been watching Sonia Sotomayor out of the corner of my eye.  I knew she was single–the first single woman to sit on the Supreme Court!  She was just chomping at the bit to ask a question, and as soon as she saw daylight, she hit the hole running.

“Counselor, let me pose a hypothetical,” she said, easing into her query.  “Let’s say someone came up with a really effective system of speed dating . . . ”

“Really?  A Supreme Court Justice?  Wow!  I’m . . . a valet parking attendant.”


“Speed dating?”  The guy was clueless–probably hadn’t been inside a singles bar since the first Clinton administration.

“Yes, speed dating.  It’s a formalized method for singles to meet a large number of new people, invented by Rabbi Yaacov Deyo of Aish HaTorah.”

“I’m not familiar with the process, your honor.”

“Men and women rotate through a series of short ‘dates’ lasting from 3 to 8 minutes.  First impressions are usually accurate, except Congressional first impressions of me, which were totally wrong.”

“We only have a couple of seconds, so let me just say that I love you madly.”


“Okay, I follow you.”

“Anyway, suppose someone came up with a system of screening out the men who don’t have jobs as prestigious as Supreme Court Justice.  In my mind, that would be a very valuable enhancement to a process that is currently very hit-or-miss.  Wouldn’t you agree?”

The guy was drenched in flop sweat.  You never want to disagree with a Supreme Court Justice, but if he agreed with her, wouldn’t he be saying she needed help with a courtship technique that was already steeped in desperation?

“Your honor, I see my time is just about up . . .”

“I have discretion to grant you extra time,” she said with an icy tone.  “I’m waiting . . .”

“Your honor,” he said, and I could tell he was stalling for time.  “There are some women who are too good for any man.  Beautiful, talented, brilliant–think you know the type.  Anyway, there are some improvements that are beyond the imagination of even the brightest minds.  So I don’t think that’s possible.”

If there was a rule against hyperbole before the Court I wouldn’t have a job.  But there isn’t, so I have to sit through this kind of sugar-coated b.s. every day.

She looked him up and down, taking the measure of the man.  “No further questions,” she said finally.  “Anybody else?”

“Yes.”  It was Justice Thomas, who never says a thing at oral argument.  “Can somebody get me a Diet Coke?”


Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “The Supremes Greatest Hits.”

Con Chapman

I'm a Boston-area writer, author of two novels (most recently "Making Partner"), a baseball book about the Red Sox and the Yankees ("The Year of the Gerbil"), ten published plays and 45 books of humor available in print and Kindle formats on amazon.com. My latest book "Scooter & Skipper Blow Things Up!" was released by HumorOutcasts Press last year. My humor has appeared in The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe and Barron's, and I am working on a biography of Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington's long-time alto sax player for Oxford University Press .

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