I first this joke when I was clerking so many years ago, but I was reminded it of it just this morning.
A law professor, a federal appellate judge, and a federal trial judge go duck hunting. Under state law, they are only permitted to shoot ducks at this time of year, so they obviously must be sure that anything they shoot is a duck.
A group of birds flies overhead, making noise. The appellate judge stands up and says, “I conclude that those are ducks. I know those from applying the six-part, eight-factor test established in Goose v. Duck,” which he then explains in great detail. By the time he has finished his explanation, the ducks have flown out of range. He sits down.
A few minutes later, a second group of birds flies overhead. The law professor stands up and says “I conclude that those are ducks. But the test of Goose v. Duck is ridiculous, because it is biased against historically oppressed species, ignores principles of rational efficiency, ignores the insights of animal behavioral economics, and departs from Kantian ethics.” The professor continues to explain this all in great detail. By the time he has finished, the ducks have flown out of range. He sits down.
A few minutes later, a third group of birds flies overhead. The trial judge stands up, squeezes off three rounds and blows three birds out of the sky. He turns to his friends and says
“Boy, I hope those were ducks.”