Anthony Kennedy, Barack Obama, Elena Kagan, Guns / Firearms, Immigration, John Roberts, Politics, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, SCOTUS, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court

A Lawyer’s Guide to Getting Drunk During the State of the Union

It’s that time of year again! Time for all lawyers to tear themselves away from drinking at their desks and gather around a television to participate in an Above the Law drinking game.

Where else is there a drinking game focused on Justice Ginsburg AND Ted Nugent?

Remember to follow your Above the Law editors covering the speech via Twitter. See @ATLblog, @DavidLat, @ElieNYC, @StaciZaretsky, and @JosephPatrice (because a week after the fact, I realize it’s too difficult to tweet from my usual handle and have people realize who I am).

Unless otherwise noted, take a sip whenever these come up….

Change in subject — This sets a good base of drinking. Certainly the speech will cover the economy/budget, North Korea, Afghanistan, immigration reform, and guns. Anything else? Take a sip when a new substantive category gets announced.

“Oh, we’re a happy family!”

For every absent Supreme Court justice — While the Supreme Court often attends the speech as a body, individual justices are not obligated to attend the State of the Union address. Justice Alito has made a public show of his disinterest in the speech, though that may reflect the embarrassment he brought upon himself the last time he showed up.

If only the SCOTUS majority in the Obamacare decision showsFinish your drink. This is a long shot. Last year, Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan attended. Justice Sotomayor will probably be there this year (she was busy in Guam last year), making Justice Kennedy the odd man out. Justice Kennedy is something of a regular, so it’ll take some doing for him to stay away. Deserving of a full chug.

Justice Ginsburg goes to sleepFinish your drink with some Ambien. I can’t imagine this will happen again.

State of our/the Union used in a sentence — A personal pet peeve, but a speech about the state of the union does not need the phrase “the state of the union.” You can just go ahead and describe the situation. It reminds me of that lame moment in a movie where a character namechecks the film in an awkward, out-of-context scene.

“Law enforcement” — With gun control making its way into the speech, both policing and police shootings will be mentioned. But every time we hear the words “law enforcement,” we can take a drink.

Recess appointments are mentioned — The ultimate throwdown topic. If Obama decides to take it to the Senate and the D.C. Circuit in the middle of the speech, you know the tone in Washington has turned ugly.

Commentator (or anyone around you who doesn’t know these rules) refers to the State of the Union as “constitutionally required” — Kind of being a know-it-all, but OK.

Commentator (or anyone around you who doesn’t know these rules) notes that “the President doesn’t actually need to give a speech”Finish your drink. Lousy gunner. Extra nerd points for the talking head who pulls out the gem that the State of the Union could be a written message. Jimmy Carter pulled this in 1981.

The responses from Marco Rubio and Rand Paul evoke “2016” from commentators — Everyone’s thinking it. How many times will the talking heads say it in a 30-second window?

A full standing ovation — This may come as a shock, but a lot of House Republicans don’t like President Obama because he’s a secret Kenyan Socialist Muslim. But once or twice, he’ll bring the whole audience to its feet. That’s when you drink.

Every time the camera cuts to The Nuge — Continuing from the last item: for example, Representative Steve Stockman hates President Obama. To show his disdain, he’s invited Ted Nugent to attend the State of the Union after the Nuge wrote a contemplative piece about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton speaking in “ebonic mumbo-jumbo.” Delightful. But the musician who brought up Cat Scratch Fever and… basically nothing else, has agreed not to bring a gun to the Capitol tonight. He calls this a move to “demilitarize” himself. Not unlike how he “demilitarized” himself during Vietnam (even if he made up his infamous 4-F story).

Obama unveils a new hashtag — Personally, I think this device has moved from demonstrating social media savvy into being plain annoying. Every initiative doesn’t need a hashtag. From “#my2K” to “#compromise” to the ridiculously too long “#dontdoublemyrate,” White House hashtags have proliferated. Will there be one tonight?

When the speech hits one hour and then every ten minutes until it ends — These speeches don’t have to last an hour, but President Obama tends to clock in just around the 1:05 mark.

Obama just starts hurling beads to women in the audienceFinish your drink. In an ironic twist, this year’s address happens to take place on Mardi Gras, the Catholic feast celebrating Saint Joe Francis of Assisi.

Justice Ginsburg pulls up her robe for some beadsFinish drink. Open a new one. Finish that one. See if Amazon Prime has Calendar Girls available for streaming (SPOILER ALERT: They do).

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