Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

Mistaken Identity

I’m currently reading The Nine, which profiles the members of the Supreme Court during the past two decades along with the cases they decided. The book is riddled with interesting anecdotes about each of the justices. Those who remember the Gil (Guille?) episode in college might get a kick out of this one:

It was, for example, a running joke at the Court that outsiders frequently mistook Souter and Breyer for each other. No one could really understand why this happened, because the two bore little resemblance. One day when Souter was making his usual solo drive from Washington to New Hampshire, he stopped for lunch in Massachusetts. A stranger and his wife came up to him and asked, “Aren’t you on the Supreme Court?”

Souter said he was.

“You’re Justice Breyer, right?” said the man.

Rather than embarrass the fellow, Souter simply nodded and exchanged pleasantries, until he was asked an unexpected question.

“Justice Breyer, what’s the best thing about being on the Supreme Court?”

The justice thought for a while, then said, “Well, I’d have to say it’s the privilege of serving with David Souter.”

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