Although federal judges aren't widely regarded as the funniest people, many of them are actually hilarious. For example, our beloved Supreme Court nominee, Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., has a great sense of humor (as one can see over at his blog).
Judge Alito's sense of humor has been described as "quiet and sly." It's not as flashy as that of Justice Antonin Scalia, nor as snarky as that of the young John Roberts, but it's definitely there (notwithstanding Dana Milbank's somewhat juvenile attempt to portray Judge Alito as a humorless nerd).
Here are two anecdotes demonstrating that Sam Alito is a pretty funny man:
1. Take a look at this "Justice Is Blind" item, which appeared in the pages of this blog back in October 2004:
The Hallways of Justice. This district court diva, who harbors delusions of grandeur, placed large stonework lions on either side of the door to her chambers. Her neighbor down the hall, an appeals court judge, found the lions absolutely ridiculous (and ugly to boot). Shortly thereafter, he placed two hideous, plastic pink flamingos flanking the entrance to his own chambers.
The district court diva took the hint. She removed her leonine decorations sua sponte, without waiting for the mandate to issue from the appellate court...
Who was the appeals court judge in this humorous tale? Why, it was none other than Judge Samuel Alito! (For confirmation, check out this article, by the excellent Jan Crawford Greenburg.)
When [Sam Alito] left the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Third Circuit, those of us in the Appeals Division decided to give him a going-away present. You know those office ink-pad stamps that say "CANCELLED" or "DRAFT" or "RECEIVED" or whatever? We had one made that said "AFFIRMED," to make Sam's job [hearing] criminal appeals that much easier. A little prosecutor's in-joke, you know?
A few months later, an unmarked envelope arrived for us in the Appeals Division. Inside was a slip opinion of the first criminal appeal Judge Alito had heard, with the word "AFFIRMED" stamped about 20 times all over the front page.
We never did figure out who it was from.*
Delightful! Although several justices, such as Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts, are quite funny, the Court could always use another member who knows how to laugh. Let's get Judge Alito confirmed to the SCOTUS, ASAP!
* Before you jump to the conclusion that Judge Alito failed to recuse himself when he should have, please note Professor Muller's update to this post:
[T]he opinion we received in the mail with the "AFFIRMED" stamp all over it was not in a case litigated by our office. As I recall, Sam Alito recused himself from all cases that had been pending during his tenure as U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, and even from those that followed his tenure as U.S. Attorney for a period of many months, if not more.