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27 Catt. 1: In re McDonald’s

2014 January 9
Our maître d’hôtel, courtesy of Flickr user sfxeric.

Our maître d’hôtel, courtesy of Flickr user sfxeric.

JEREMY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Cart. CATTLEYA, J., wrote a separate concurrence.

Christmas Eve in the chambers: not a creature was stirring, not even a clerk. We, the Justices, sat alone in our wood-paneled chambers, reading by candlelight from ancient treatises. The cause of justice, you see, allows for no holiday. But even a Justice is human, and a human must eventually succumb to slumber. Visions of sugar-plums danced in our heads.

Morning arrived, and with it delicious cookies and candy in a stocking marked “Jeremy” and a mound of coal in a stocking marked “Cattleya.” Come Christmas afternoon, we, the Justices of the Supreme Cart ventured out of our chambers, a light breeze in the air as chilling as my sister’s activism. Our wigs and long, black robes billowed as we stood there, together, on the marble steps of 1 First Street SW.

“Where shall we eat?” we asked aloud, our voices piercing the District’s haunting silence. A food truck, naturally, but none could be found. We ran to Union Station, to L’Enfant Plaza, to Farragut Square and Franklin Square Park, to the State Department. We even ran across the blustery Potomac bridges to Arlington, our freshly powdered wigs coming loose in the wind and floating downstream to the Chesapeake. There was not a food truck to be found.

CBO, fries, and fancy ketchup.

CBO, fries, and fancy ketchup.

But a Justice must eat. And there, before us, shining brightly like a diamond, gleaming luminously like the holy grail freshly polished, lustrous and radiant, we spied one golden arch and a second. McDonald’s, the sign said. And it was open. There was the scent of frying McNuggets, the sizzle of a grilled onion cheddar burger, the sacred promise of an apple pie. And so we approached, slowly, cautiously, guardedly walking toward that happy bosom of gold.

We opened the door and paused beside the case of sample Happy Meal toys. We looked warily at each other. Would we have jurisdiction to eat here?

Under the statute and our rules, we have jurisdiction over “mobile gastronomic enterprises,” including trucks and carts and the occasional three-course brunch in New Orleans. We have even found ourselves to have jurisdiction over non-mobile gastronomic enterprises where they offer the same menu items as a mobile gastronomic enterprise or different menu items under the same branding, or where some contract between the non-mobile gastronomic enterprise and the mobile gastronomic enterprise whose fare it purveys.

But a Justice must eat. And no such enterprise could be found. We find today that emergency jurisdiction exists over any gastronomic enterprise where there can be found within our district no mobile gastronomic enterprise or non-mobile gastronomic enterprise aligned with a mobile gastronomic enterprise. This Christmas Day, no such enterprise could be found. Therefore, we find we validly had jurisdiction over McDonald’s.

Half-eaten Big Mac.

Half-eaten Big Mac.

I ordered the following culinary delights:

  • A cheddar bacon onion quarter-pounder.
  • A grilled onion cheddar burger.
  • Two Big Macs.
  • French fries.
  • A limited edition holiday pie.

The appeal of the grilled onion cheddar burger cannot be overstated. The subtle seasoning of the burger patty, salty and savory. The melting cheese enveloping the patty, tangy and custard-like. The perfectly caramelized onions, brown and sugary sweet. We were fanatics.

The cheddar bacon onion (or “CBO,” as in the Congressional Budget Office) we found to be less successful. The peppery burger and smoked bacon were intriguing, but the denser, more substantial roll detracted from the otherwise intense interaction of flavors and textures.

The Big Mac is quite simply a classic: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun. The smack of the special sauce—mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, yellow mustard with vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika—enchants the palate, setting it to dance like the Sugar Plum Fairy. The sesame seeds were an inspired touch.

Holiday pie, for a limited time only.

Holiday pie, for a limited time only.

Question: How do you spot Ronald McDonald at a nudist colony? Answer: By his sesame seed buns. (What? That killed in second grade.)

The French fries were warm and crisp and pillowy, as a good fry should be. A very good fry, in fact. An always surprisingly good fry. A miracle, perhaps, fittingly. They paired beautifully with packets of sweet, bright red fancy ketchup.

The holiday pie was pure Christmas: a sprinkled sugar cookie dough enveloping a sweet egg custard, lovingly cradling it like a child holding a prized present found beneath an ornamented tree. It tasted like waking up Christmas morning, like a day spent around a fire with family and friends.

Sated and satisfied, we retreated back to 1 First Street SW, back to our wood-paneled chambers, where we donned new pairs of wigs and settled into our oversized, swiveling leather chairs for a long night of deliberation. (Or a nap, in Justice Cattleya’s case.)

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good bite!


CATTLEYA, J., concurring.

I write separately because I wish to call special attention to the opinion authored by the Chief Justice. No matter what the Chief Justice writes in any opinion in the future, this one will be forever remembered as his most significant. For it is in this opinion that the Chief Justice followed his heart—or maybe his stomach?—to open the door for this court to review any gastronomic enterprise under “emergency jurisdiction.”

The reader may have heard that the Justices of another high court in this land, one that shares the same street address as ours but in the Northeast quadrant, are being honored one by one with their own bobbleheads. Yes, bobbleheads. Four of the current nine Supreme Court Justices, plus more than a handful of Justices from the past, have inspired works of bobbling, ceramic artistry that show their likeness and highlight their significant opinions through clever symbols. For example, the bobblehead of Justice David H. Souter wears a gold chain around his neck like the members of 2 Live Crew, a reference to the Justice’s opinion in the copyright case Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994). For more on the bobbleheads of the Supreme Court Justices, see here if you like videos, here if you like articles, and here if you like Buzzfeed.

Well, this opinion is so important to the Chief Justice’s jurisprudence of judicial activism that one day when he is honored with his very own bobblehead, as I am sure all of the Supreme Cart Justices will be, his bobblehead makers will seek to somehow symbolize this very opinion in ceramic form. But how to do so? The obvious idea would be to depict the Chief Justice with the famous Golden Arches, but surely that idea would be quickly rejected due to the trademark issues involved.

Personally, I would suggest to the bobblehead makers that they allow their eyes to pause over the Chief Justice’s description of his first sight of the Golden Arches: “And there . . . shining brightly like a diamond . . . .”

Shining brightly like a diamond.

Shine bright like a diamond.

Shine bright like a diamond.

The bobblehead makers will, I trust, recognize this for what it so plainly is—a reference to lyrics from the song “Diamonds” by the artist Rihanna. (Truly, contrary to popular belief, the Chief Justice dislikes opera and I swear that I so often can hear Rihanna’s records playing through the doors to his chambers.) So there it is. A clue to the perfect symbol to represent the Chief Justice’s opinion in In re McDonald’s.

But a real diamond, of course, would be much too expensive to include in the design of the Chief Justice’s bobblehead. And a synthetic diamond would offend his fancy tastes. Is there a less costly, but recognizable object that would represent Rihanna, and thereby, the important McDonald’s decision?

“Yes,” I hope the bobblehead makers will think, remembering Rihanna’s critically acclaimed, Grammy Award winning single “Umbrella.” Of course!

And that is how one day the Chief Justice will end up as a bobblehead with a beautifully sculpted umbrella propped under his ceramic arm. I so hope, bobblehead makers. I so hope.

Chief Justice Jeremy, with SCOTUS Justices

Chief Justice Jeremy of the Supreme Cart, with Justices of the Supreme Court

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