Roberts v. McCheese: The End Of An Era
Courtesy of the WSJ Law Blog, the secret link between McDonald’s and the U.S. Supreme Court is shockingly revealed, based on the heroic journalistic efforts of Bill Geerhart, who back in the ’90s pretended to be a ten-year old boy for the purpose of asking ludicrous written questions of public figures (e.g., “What is your favorite thing to eat at McDonald’s?”).
Courtesy of the book subsequently published by Mr. Geerhart, we learn the following: Justice O’ Connor is partial to the Big Mac, Justice Thomas prefers the Egg McMuffin, although he confesses “actually, I like almost everything on there.” Justice Blackmun deemed McDonald’s “acceptable,” but seemed to prefer a sandwich from Roy Rogers and admonished “young Billy” to eat his fruits and vegetables. And Justices Souter and Ginsburg responded, but seemed to indicate that they ate at McDonald’s rarely, if ever, and did not name any favorites.
Well, times have changed and there’s a new sheriff in town. On September 29, 2005, Chief Justice John G. Roberts took his seat as the seventeenth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Although it did not come up at the confirmation hearings, Roberts was the D.C. Circuit judge who upheld the Metro Transit Police’s stopping, searching, handcuffing and booking a twelve-year old D.C. girl for the crime of eating a single french fry in the Tenleytown Metro Station while buying a Metrocard there. While his colleagues may indulge occasionally (or frequently) in a McGriddles or a 6-piece McNuggets, this is clearly a man who has zero tolerance for the concept of “fast food.”
There is a lot of claptrap in this opinion about a rational basis test, strict scrutiny, age as a suspect classification and so on (if that’s your cup of tea, you can read the opinion) – but the lesson is this: If you are in D.C., don’t think that your fast food is so “fast” that you can just walk into the Metro while eating your lunch, because you never know when the Metro cops will slap the cuffs on you faster than you can say “Royale With Cheese.”
This isn’t the New York subway system where you can just waltz onto the train with your latte and your croissant and leave half of it under your seat. This is the D.C. Metro, and it may have chronically broken escalators, spotty service and frequent deadly accidents but dammit, there’s not a trace of food! And if it upsets you that such a thing could have happened over a single solitary french fry, especially in the seat of our nation’s government, then go take it up with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He’ll be gone all summer, but you can probably catch him in October.