The 3 Best Revelations About The Supreme Court Cafeteria

Justice is served on a cafeteria tray.
He better be thinking about chocolate chip cookies! Neil Gorsuch will be joining the Supreme Court cafeteria committee.
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
He better be thinking about chocolate chip cookies! Neil Gorsuch will be joining the Supreme Court cafeteria committee.

As the newest Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch is now tasked with decision-making at the highest level: matters of the stomach.

Each incoming rookie justice is appointed to the committee that oversees the court’s cafeteria, since no veteran SCOTUS members want the apparently horrible task. It’s a lesser known, less glamorous aspect of the big gig, but a new article in the Wall Street Journal takes a deep dive into the details, with past appointees talking about their time serving what Ruth Bader Ginsburg called “a truly disheartening assignment.”

It’s a fascinating, informative and quite frankly absurd-sounding account of one rather grim-looking lunchroom, and it sent us on a quest to find out more. Here are our three favorite revelations.

It’s basically hazing.

The Supreme Court is the highest-ranked court in the country, but that doesn’t mean its members are above a little collegiate behavior. The sheer act of forcing the newest justice to perform cafeteria duty has fraternity and sorority life written all over it. They even refer to it as hazing.

“It’s a way of bringing them back down to earth after the excitement of confirmation and appointment,’” Chief Justice John Roberts said in 2011, according to the Associated Press.

“It’s not a very good cafeteria, so this is really just the opportunity they have to kind of haze you all the time,” Elena Kagan said during a 2014 talk at Princeton, People reported. “Like, ‘Argh, you know, Elena, this food isn’t very good.’”

Gorusch has to live up to the thrill of a fro-yo machine.

Gorusch replaces Kagan on cafeteria committee duty, and may be doomed from the start, depending on your opinions about ice cream. Kagan was widely praised for bringing a frozen yogurt machine into the cafeteria. And while that doesn’t sound like a major success, it’s apparently considered more than anyone else ever accomplished.

No one at the court can remember any of the prior justices on the committee doing anything,” according to Roberts.

(To be fair, the Associate Press reports Stephen Breyer expanded the salad bar and got the cafeteria to serve Starbucks coffee.)

Kagan previously shed light on what the position entails. She told The Hill in April that each appointee is expected to attend “monthly cafeteria committee meetings where literally the agenda is what happened to the good recipe for the chocolate chip cookies.” LOL.

The Supreme Court caf is plagued with drama.

The WSJ report reads more like a juicy soap opera than a workplace profile.

Not only was the public cafeteria given an “F” by a 2010 Washington Post rating of all government cafeterias, not every justice has survived the cutthroat gig.

Sonia Sotomayor was even let go from the job after the ratings came out. “I got a note from the chief justice the next day,” she said. “It said: ‘You’re fired.’”

According to the AP, Sandra Day O’Connor once single-handedly chose a new food service company, and the ensuing outrage prompted several other committee members to immediately resign.


Head to the Wall Street Journal to read the entire story.

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