Some kids dream of growing up to be a fireman, others a veterinarian. But future lawyers have their own wish: to sit on the Supreme Court.

“Every lawyer would like to be,” said Justice Stephen Breyer. But, he added, “nobody thinks it’s real.”

Dishing on his one-in-a-million job at a National Archives book signing this month, the 75-year-old justice appointed by former President Clinton in 1994 said that “lightning has to strike. Now, of course, like anyone who was in law school, whatever you think, sure, that would be wonderful and so forth, but you don't really think it.”

And anyway, he added, all lawyers think they’re qualified to serve. Truth is, he said, “we are not.”

So it comes down to a bit of luck. “I mean to be a federal judge, lightning has to strike.” Then, he said, “to be on the Supreme Court, well, lightning has to strike twice in the same place. ...In my case, I guess, lightning did strike twice in the same place.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at