WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court of the United States held Thursday that the Court would have its weekly group dinner at Applebee’s. The 5-to-4 decision confirmed the suspicion of legal scholars that a deep rift has formed between the Justices on socializing issues.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, writing on behalf of the casual dining majority, noted that reasonable prices, combined with variety of choices, made Applebee’s the most logical choice for the week’s dinner. The decision did not address the quality or healthiness of the restaurant’s options, but did make several mention of ribs. His decision was joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Anthony M. Kennedy. Justice Clarence Thomas agreed for the most part, writing a concurring opinion that took pains to note that the need to make such a decision was not outlined by the Constitution and that he preferred Chili’s.
Justices Antonin Scalia, in a dissent joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr, decried the Court’s “descent into culinary hell” and railed against “silly restaurant flair [decorations] and watered down drinks.” The strongly worded dissent, filled with anger and confidence, also waxed nostalgic of “the halcyon days when [the Court] would dine at The Capital Grille” before asserting that “Rehnquist would have never let this happen.”
The pivotal swing vote came with Justice Kennedy, who wavered until Chief Justice Roberts promised to buy Ultimate Trios for the whole table.
James L. Carson, who teaches constitutional law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, said the majority’s decision was a harbinger of things to come as the Justices settle into a stable composition. ”The days of dry-aged steaks and quality bartenders is over, this Court is going to be all about beer and wings.”
But Jake Tunney, scholar at the Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, observed that a 5-to-4 decision indicates that the issue of dining preferences is far from settled. ”[Justice] Kennedy is as fickle as a child when it comes to what he wants to eat, he might say he wants Applebee’s now, but tomorrow it could be wild caught salmon at Legal Seafoods or a chili dog from Ben’s Chili Bowl.” He added “if I didn’t know any better I’d swear he was pregnant.”
At the time of this writing the group was seen in the lobby of Applebee’s waiting in the queue to be seated. As it turns out, Justice Kagan had forgot to call ahead and ask for a table. Justice Scalia let out a very audible sigh.