The normally staid proceedings of the United States Supreme Court were interrupted by laughter when the Chief Justice brought up, of all things, a meme. It wasn’t “Gonna tell my kids” or any of the Baby Yoda jokes but “OK, boomer” that made it to the highest court in the land. And they say Twitter isn’t real life.
In Babb v. Wilkie, a case centering around a claim of age discrimination, John Roberts posed this hypothetical: “[L]et’s say in the course of the, you know, weeks’ long process, you know, one comment about age, you know, the hiring person is younger, says, you know, ‘OK Boomer,’ you know—”
It was at this point that the laughs, loud enough to be recorded by the official SCOTUS court reporting service, broke out in the chamber. Apparently, those in the audience weren’t expecting Roberts, a Boomer himself, to reference a piece of internet culture (that he might have actually read about it in this October New York Times story).
After some back and forth, Roman Martinez, the attorney Roberts was questioning, basically compared “OK, boomer” to an ethnic slur, which seems like the exaggeration of the century, and we’re barely two decades in.
Roberts asked Martinez if calling a potential employee a “boomer” during the hiring process was, in and of itself, enough to qualify as age discrimination under the law.
Hopefully, the Court decides that an offhand “OK, boomer” is one, hilarious, and two, not evidence of age discrimination in and of itself. Because who wants to live in a world in which judges can tell you which memes you can use like they’re a woman yelling at a cat?