It’s official: “OK, boomer” is now part of the U.S. Supreme Court record.
Chief Justice John Roberts dropped the retort Wednesday at oral argument in an age discrimination case, asking hypothetically whether the use of that phrase could be considered evidence under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
In the case before the court, Noris Babb, a pharmacist for the Department of Veterans Affairs, contends she was denied promotions due to her age and gender.
Roberts imagined an exchange during the job application process.
“Let’s say in the course of the, you know, weeks’ long process, you know, [there is] one comment about age,” Roberts riffed. “The hiring person is younger, [and] says, you know, ‘OK, boomer’ … once to the applicant. ... Is that actionable?”
His scenario was met with laughter in the courtroom, as the official transcript for Babb v. Wilkie noted.
According to the database of high court arguments, it was the first time the phrase had been uttered at the Supreme Court, the Associated Press reported.
Roberts, whose 1955 birth places him smack bang in the middle of the baby boomer cohort, is father to two Gen Zers ― perhaps where he picked up the catchphrase used to mock his generation.
Roman Martinez, the 36-year-old lawyer at the podium representing Babb, ultimately appeared to satisfy the chief justice by suggesting that use of the term would be actionable if it were used to negatively assess a job candidate.
“If the decision-makers are sitting around the table and they say, ‘We’ve got Candidate A who’s 35 and we’ve got Candidate B who’s 55 and is a boomer and is probably tired and, you know, doesn’t have a lot of computer skills,’ I think that absolutely would be actionable,” Martinez said.
Introducing the Supreme Court to intergenerational memes aside, Roberts has a lot on his plate. The chief justice will be sworn in Thursday to preside over the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.