Newly-appointed U.S. Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch will be taking on more than he bargained for as the newest member, as reports claim he will be assigned to “cafeteria duty” and other menial tasks as part of a hazing tradition.
Being that Gorsuch is now the highest court’s most junior member, he will have a few extra duties piled on his plate to humble the new justice, including kitchen duty, answering the door at private justice meetings, note-taking duty, handling complaints about the court cafeteria’s food. He will also be required to speak last at all meetings.
Gorsuch is replacing Justice Elena Kagan, who when asked by The Washington Post what it’s like to be the Supreme Court’s junior justice, she explained that the junior court member is in charge of the justices’ kitchen and what is on the menu when they meet.
“I think this is a way to kind of humble people,” she said. “You think you’re kind of hot stuff. You’re an important person. You’ve just been confirmed to the United States Supreme Court.”
“And now you are going to monthly cafeteria committee meetings where literally the agenda is what happened to the good recipe for the chocolate chip cookies,” she explained.
Kagan’s main cafeteria-committee accomplishment has been introducing a frozen-yogurt machine. Breyer expanded the cafeteria’s salad bar and added Starbucks coffee. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female justice, found herself in some hot water when she single-handedly chose a new cafeteria food service company. Several committee members promptly resigned.
Kagan also compared taking on the new role of being a justice to “drinking out of a firehose” and said the “learning curve is extremely steep — sometimes it seems vertical.”
Business Insider reports that not all new justices adjust quickly. In fact, some take as long as five years to adapt. Justice Samuel Alito said that even after he took over as the rookie after Justice Stephen Breyer in 2006, Breyer still would still jump up to answer a knock on the door at the justices’ private conference for many years.
“Before I could even start to get out of the chair, Justice Breyer was out of his chair and headed for the door and the chief justice had to say, ‘Steve, sit down, that’s not your job anymore,'” Alito recalled in a 2009 interview.
While lowly duties for the newest justice member are part of a time-honored tradition, the job certainly comes with plenty of perks such as lifetime tenure and the prestige of holding a seat in the nation’s highest court.
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