The Supreme Court of the United States is a bit like a family. Its members have to spend lots of time together, sometimes on unpleasant tasks, and have to coexist for as long as they live. Sometimes their feuds become legendary. And always, always the most junior member gets the shaft. “I think this is a way to kind of humble people,” Elena Kagan told Neil Gorsuch when he joined the court in 2017.
Among the duties of the junior justice are taking notes in meetings, answering the conference room door (Kagan had to do this even while her foot was in a cast), and, most importantly, sitting on the Supreme Court cafeteria committee. “[It’s] a truly disheartening assignment,” said Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Kagan elaborated: “It’s not a very good cafeteria, so this is really just the opportunity they have to kind of haze you all the time. Like, ‘Argh, you know, Elena, this food isn’t very good.’” During her tenure as junior justice, Kagan arranged for the installation of a frozen yogurt machine. Chief Justice John Roberts considers this the greatest accomplishment of any cafeteria committee member, even more than Stephen Breyer’s success in getting Starbucks. (Which maybe puts the Supreme Court cafeteria ahead of the House Members Dining Room?)
These days all those duties fall to Brett Kavanaugh, who displayed an interest in food during his contentious confirmation hearings when he passionately declared his love of beer. Now he has made his mark on the Supreme Court food offerings, not by adding beer to the menu—there’s probably some rule against that—but pizza, which also goes very well with beer. He’s very proud of himself. “My legacy is secure,” he announced in a speech to the Federalist Society in November. “It’s fine by me if I’m ever known as the ‘pizza justice.’”
But how good is the pizza? Since the cafeteria is open to the public, Clyde McGrady, an enterprising reporter for Roll Call, decided to give it a try. He happened to visit the court on a busy day, during the oral arguments for the New Jersey “Bridgegate” scandal, so there were four people ahead of him in the pizza line. It took 25 minutes for him to get his pizza because there’s only one oven and the personal-sized pizzas are prepared one at a time. Options are cheese and pepperoni, no supreme. Which, as McGrady noticed, is really a missed opportunity.
Here is his verdict on the pepperoni:
If you’re looking for a flavor comparison, I’d rank it just below Pizza Hut and just above the average gas station offering.
The meal comes with a small container of mesclun greens that some people (not me) would call a salad. And at $8, it’s a decent price point.
There are faster and better options nearby: &pizza, We the Pizza, Sbarro. If you’re at the Supreme Court cafeteria and there is no one in front of you in line (cannot stress that last point enough), then, by all means, give it a try. Otherwise, go with the wings.
All in all, I give it two stars (out of five).