Historic Supreme Justice Opinions on Catered Lunches

by Lincoln Sedlacek

Frank Murphy, Eggs Benedict, May 13, 1948
“In the end, the true question being debated here is not what constitutes a poached egg, but who holds the authority to declare whether or not an egg is poached. Is it the chef, an egg expert, but one with clear conflict of interest? Or is it the customer, who may judge the egg not based on what it is, but on what he or she wanted? In truth, the answer is far simpler. A poached egg is an egg that has been cooked in simmering liquid; any further discussion is just a matter of doneness.”

Warren E. Burger, Cheeseburgers, October 25, 1969
“It is the right of all Supreme Court Justices to decide what they will order for lunch on any given day, as surely as it is their right to decide what they shall wear underneath their robes. And it is the right of a Justice to make catering suggestions to his fellow Justices, in order to engage in stimulating culinary conversation – this is the only way to ensure that all receive the best lunch possible. However: when a Justice is mercilessly mocked for the first four months of his term due to sharing his name with that of a type of food, this is not enlightening conversation. It is name-based discrimination.”

William Rehnquist, Open-Faced Turkey Sandwich w. Gravy, November 30, 1989
“The majority of this court has stated its opinion: that all sandwiches are created and eaten equal. But an open-faced sandwich is two-thirds – maybe even only half – of what common culinary law considers to be a sandwich, and cannot be picked up for consumption using one’s hands alone. How can it be considered equal to its doubly-breaded counterparts? If this question has proven difficult to address, it is because it has no answer, save, ‘It cannot.’ ”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Macaroni and Cheese, February 8, 2003
“The question before us today is not one of morality or decency, but one of the right to expression of culinary tastes in one’s own private life. Whether the public majority accepts the combination of macaroni and cheese with ketchup as natural is immaterial next to our natural right to choose what we eat – and whether we enjoy it.”

John Roberts, Tuna Patty w. Sweet Potato Fries, June 26, 2015
“If you are among the many Americans – of whatever flavor preferences – who favor gastropub-type meals, by all means celebrate today’s lunch. Celebrate the perfectly cooked tuna patty. Celebrate the crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside fries. Celebrate the expert use of seasonings and spices. But do not celebrate the constitution of the aioli sauce. It had nothing to do with it.”

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