Bench Press

A judge turns to the gym after a life in robes.

As many people have observed, there are indeed second acts in American life. Ruthless capitalists become philanthropists. Congress members leave office and return to the Capitol as lobbyists. Television broadcasters turn into Republican politicians in nonpartisan garb. But here's something you don't often see: a respected judge throwing off her robes to become . . . a powerlifter. That's just what former state Supreme Court Justice Faith Ireland has done. A new book Ireland is featured in—Second Wind: Rise of the Ageless Athlete, by Lee Bergquist—shows the 67-year-old retiree, blond hair cropped short, in a stretchy black jumpsuit lifting an enormous barbell, the strain evident in her face and leg muscles. As a powerlifter, Ireland is good—very good. At a meet-up of the World Association of Bench Pressers and Deadlifters in Reno, Nev., on Oct. 28, she set one world record in her age and weight category (with a bench press of 150.9 pounds), and came in first in the deadlifting competition (heaving 275 pounds from a bent but standing position). No wonder she felt as though she had the strength to take on the Republican establishment with a lawsuit against the powerful Building Industry Association of Washington, challenging its participation in Dino Rossi's fund-raising during his 2008 run for governor. (The case is ongoing.) Will other aging jurists follow suit? Could the seemingly indefatigable Judge Betty Fletcher, the 86-year-old liberal lion of the Ninth Circuit, leave the bench for bench presses? Now there's a picture we'd like to see.

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