Congressional lawmakers—more than two-fifths of whom are lawyers by education—often can’t resist from referring to their law school days when in need of a pithy anecdote for speechifying.

In remarks on the House and Senate floors, members of Congress this year brought up law school in a variety of ways, from arguing that an issue is too difficult to understand—not even a lawyer can figure it out!—to saying that a concept is so easy to grasp that even a first-year law student would not be vexed. Need to make fun of yourself? Mention how you didn’t get into Harvard Law School. Trying to fill time during a filibuster? Tell a story about law school.

Here are seven of the best law school mentions this year, as reported in the Congressional Record:

1. “He graduated–as I always remind him–from Harvard Law School. I called them several times, but obviously my application was lost. I never heard back from them.” – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

For self-deprecating law school humor and some observations on practicing law in government, look no further than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (George Washington University Law School, ’64). Reid made the quip about Harvard while speaking on February 7 about Senator Carl Levin (Harvard Law School, ’59), who made his 12,000th Senate vote that day.

Reid also mentioned law school when he got “a little personal here” during an October 4 speech about the government shutdown’s harm to federal workers. He spoke about his staff forgoing the big money of a law firm to work as public servants.

“I look at one young man who is a graduate of Stanford Law School. It is either the first, second, or third best law school every year in America. Could he go someplace else and make more money? You bet he could,” Reid said.

2. “I suggested to a friend who is a law professor that that would make a marvelous law school final exam. Imagine this amendment being passed into law and asking your law students to catalog all of the myriad ways in which such a proposal would be unconstitutional.” – Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

Whether the September 24 marathon 21-hour floor speech by Cruz (Harvard Law School, ’95) technically qualified as a filibuster or not, the former adjunct professor of law at University of Texas School of Law filled much of the time with legal topics.

Cruz, a former Texas Solicitor General and a former appellate partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, has mentioned law school several times. His references include one time, he recalled, when he “almost put my boot through the television set” during what he described as the fight over “HillaryCare.”

Cruz used law school to criticize Democrats’ response to an amendment to the Affordable Care Act proposed by Senator David Vitter (R-La.). The amendment would have reversed a White House exemption to the law for members of Congress and their staff. Cruz thought a proposed amendment from Democrats would make a good final exam.

Cruz recalled this from the HillaryCare debates: “I remember yelling at the TV set a sentiment that perhaps maybe more than a few people watching us feel, where you feel you don’t have a voice in the process. Certainly, as a law student I didn’t have a voice in the process,” Cruz said.

3. “Here is the quote: ‘A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.’ I don’t know how that is relevant to this, but I thought it was a very good quote. I thought I would bring it up because I went to law school. I am a lawyer.” – Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

Rubio (University of Miami School of Law, ’96) used this line, supposedly unused from “The Godfather,” during the March 6 filibuster by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) over the scope of the White House administration’s drone program. Rubio spoke to say it was important to discuss constitutional arguments about whether the administration would use drones to kill someone on American soil:

“The last observation I would have tonight is that there have been pretty phenomenal legal analyses on the floor. That reminds me of the most famous quote from ‘The Godfather’ that was never actually used in the movie. I don’t know how that happened. Maybe they cut it out,” Rubio said.

4. “I went to Georgetown Law School. I couldn’t get in there today with the standards they have.” – Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

Durbin (Georgetown University Law Center, ’69) has mentioned his law school days several times while pressing for legislation on the growing problem of student debt. On July 24, he was making a speech supporting the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, which the Senate passed two days later.

Durbin went on to speak about the cost of law school – and the types of “darn good” jobs needed to pay for the debt – to show how much times had changed for students now.

“Currently, I am told it costs over $50,000 a year to go to this law school–$50,000 a year for 3 years, in addition to undergraduate debt,” Durbin said. “Well, a person better get a darn good job at a Wall Street firm afterward because they will face a mountain of debt.”

On October 10, Durbin used law school for a zinger against Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former Texas Supreme Court judge. Durbin blamed Cornyn (St. Mary’s University School of Law, ’77) and Republicans for causing the shutdown, and then lamenting the impact on World War II veterans coming to Washington to find a closed monument.

“I was going to remind the Senator of Texas, who is a learned attorney and a former Texas Supreme Court justice, of the story we were told in law school,” Durbin said. “It was an anecdotal story, an apocryphal story of someone who killed both his parents, went to the courtroom, and then threw himself on the mercy of the court because he was an orphan.”

5. “In fact, I go back to first-year contracts class in law school. When you have an agreement with someone, you start with the language of your agreement and the language of the contract.” – Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)

Ayotte (Villanova University School of Law, ’93) opposed $380 million in funding for the Medium Extended Air Defense System program (MEADS), which she called “the missile to nowhere.” She contested Durbin’s assertion that the other countries would be able to seek damages from the United States if the funding for the program were stopped.

She used a March 19 floor speech to say that “a first-year contract student” would know this is not true. “So a first-year contract student would know that if we do not appropriate funds for the missile to nowhere, then we will not have legal obligations to our allies,” Ayotte said.

6. “I felt un-American that I could not figure out my own taxes, especially as somebody who went to college, went to law school, is in the Senate.” – Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.)

On July 23, Baucus (Stanford Law School, ’67) was pressing for aggressive reforms to the tax code, when he used his law schooling to show it is too complex to do income taxes at your kitchen table without the help of a “fancy lawyer.”

Baucus pointed out that there have been 15,000 changes to the tax code since the last time it was updated in 1986. Those added loopholes, deductions and credits, but nothing subtracted from the code. “Many Americans believe, as a consequence, that somebody else is getting some deductions and credits when they hire a fancy lawyer,” Baucus said.

7. “I mean, I’ve known since law school, since I was a DA, since my years as a judge, and as a chief justice that you’ve got to have specificity.” – Representative Louis Gohmert (R-Texas)

Gohmert (Baylor University School of Law, ’77), a former chief justice on Texas’ 12th Court of Appeals, is never shy about bringing up his past on the bench, or speaking boldly. He mentioned his experience on July 25 amid revelations that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. He thought those judges might have slept through a few basic classes at law school.

“I couldn’t believe they’d find a judge who would sign that,” Gohmert said. “I mean, sure, you might find some judge in some jurisdiction in that location, in that court, who didn’t have to go to law school and who really didn’t understand the Constitution, but the justices of the peace I know would know you’ve got to have some specificity here.”

Contact Todd Ruger at truger@alm.com.

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SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID (D-NEV.): “I have four boys and a girl, a daughter. I love my children as only a father could love his children. My daughter is married to a lawyer. She is a schoolteacher. My four boys are all lawyers. My next youngest gave up a job and took a pay cut of $200,000 a year so he could go to work as a city attorney in Henderson, NV. That is what public servants are all about. They are not in it for the money. They are not in it for the glory. They are in it because it is the right thing to do. As I look over this Chamber, I see two of my staff in the back row. I look at one young man who is a graduate of Stanford Law School. It is either the first, second, or third best law school every year in America. Could he go someplace else and make more money? You bet he could. He is an expert. He is an expert in finance, the budget process.”

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TX): “In fact, I would note that the majority leader and the junior Senator from California, as I understand from public news reports, proposed a response to the Vitter amendment that said any Senator who votes for the Vitter amendment–regardless of whether it passes but simply if you cast a vote in favor of it–he or she will lose their health insurance. I have to admit that when I first heard of this proposed amendment, I shook my head in amazement. I had never heard of such a thing, and I suggested to a friend who is a law professor that that would make a marvelous law school final exam. Imagine this amendment being passed into law and asking your law students to catalog all of the myriad ways in which such a proposal would be unconstitutional. In fact, I made this point to the law professor I was talking to. I said: If you as a private citizen came to any Member of the Senate and said: Senator, if you vote the way I want you to, I am going to pay you thousands of dollars that you can deposit into your personal bank account, you, Mr. Law Professor, Mr. Private Citizen, would promptly and quite rightly be prosecuted for bribery. It is a criminal offense. It is a felony. If, on the other hand, you or any other American citizen went to a U.S. Senator–went to Senator Vitter–and said: Senator Vitter, if you don’t vote the way I want, I am going to take thousands of dollars out of your personal bank account, I am going to extract them forcibly from your personal bank account, well, as I told the law professor, then you would be guilty of extortion and would be charged and no doubt criminally convicted because under the black letter definition, that conduct–threatening to pay someone individually thousands of dollars or take thousands of dollars away from them as a direct quid pro quo for how a Member of Congress votes–constitutes either bribery or extortion.”

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TX): “I remember yelling at the TV set a sentiment that perhaps maybe more than a few people watching us feel, where you feel you don’t have a voice in the process. Certainly, as a law student I didn’t have a voice in the process. But I remember yelling at the TV set: What on Earth do we believe? What are we doing? If we are going to accede to marching down the road to socialized health care, what the heck are we doing? I remember saying: All right. To heck with all of this. I am going to move to an island and fish all my life. Heck, I’m Cuban. I like to fish. That would be a great life.”

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): “The last observation I would have tonight is that there have been pretty phenomenal legal analyses on the floor. That reminds me of the most famous quote from “The Godfather” that was never actually used in the movie. I don’t know how that happened. Maybe they cut it out. Here is the quote: “A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.” I don’t know how that is relevant to this, but I thought it was a very good quote. I thought I would bring it up because I went to law school. I am a lawyer. I was a land use and zoning attorney, which meant if I wound up in the courtroom, something went horribly wrong with the land use and zoning application. The point is we have had good arguments on the constitutional issues with regard to this, and I think those are important to discuss. I am glad so much time has been spent on those. It is important for the people at home to fully understand the legal arguments here because I think they are important. They go to the heart of our Constitution. They go to the heart of our civil liberties. They go to the heart of the things that distinguish our Nation.”

SENATOR DICK DURBIN (D-IL): “I went to Georgetown Law School. I couldn’t get in there today with the standards they have. Currently, I am told it costs over $50,000 a year to go to this law school–$50,000 a year for 3 years, in addition to undergraduate debt. Well, a person better get a darn good job at a Wall Street firm afterward because they will face a mountain of debt. They are not alone. All across the United States we are seeing tuition rates go up–even at public universities–to record levels.”

SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE (R-NH): “I want to point out, first of all, not just in my view, this is wrong based on the plain language of the memorandum of understanding we have with our allies. In fact, I go back to first-year contracts class in law school. When you have an agreement with someone, you start with the language of your agreement and the language of the contract. The language of the contract of the memorandum of understanding we have on the MEADS Program in 2005 with Germany and Italy says very clearly: The responsibilities of the participants will be subject to the availability of funds appropriated for such purposes. So a first-year contract student would know that if we do not appropriate funds for the missile to nowhere, then we will not have legal obligations to our allies. In fact, that is essentially what the Department of Defense said to us when they wrote in a report to Congress about this with regard to the 2013 funding.”

SENATOR MAX BAUCUS (D-MT):“Americans as individuals do not trust the Code. It is too complex. They cannot figure out their own returns. I might say, myself, it was not too many years ago I was sitting down at the kitchen table trying to figure out my own tax returns. I am not a wealthy man. Frankly, I had to give up. I could not figure it out. I felt un-American that I could not figure out my own taxes, especially as somebody who went to college, went to law school, is in the Senate. I still cannot do my own taxes. Something is not quite right there. Many Americans believe, as a consequence, that somebody else is getting some deductions and credits when they hire a fancy lawyer. They are getting credits and deductions that they are not getting.”

REP. LOUIS GOHMERT (R-TX): “I mean, I’ve known since law school, since I was a DA, since my years as a judge, and as a chief justice that you’ve got to have specificity. The Constitution requires it. So, basically, that’s what this provision is requiring. You’ve got to describe with sufficient particularity that people can identify the specific items that you’re demanding to be produced. That’s why, when we all looked and saw in public information sources that a FISA Court judge had granted an application for a warrant for every phone call made by anybody in America, whether outside the U.S. or inside the U.S., I couldn’t believe they’d find a judge who would sign that. I mean, sure, you might find some judge in some jurisdiction in that location, in that court, who didn’t have to go to law school and who really didn’t understand the Constitution, but the justices of the peace I know would know you’ve got to have some specificity here. You can’t just come in and ask for everybody’s phone records in the country.