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Justice Kagan gives Gorsuch a crash course on being the newbie; kitchen duty, door duty and more

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Upon being sworn in Monday to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch takes on the role of being the court’s most junior member, bumping Justice Elena Kagan up in the pecking order.

…and low man on the totem pole comes with three unique responsibilities.

Gorsuch and Timothy M. Tymkovich, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, interviewed Kagan in September and she shared the three basic duties the most junior justice of the Supreme Court assumes, according to The Washington Post.

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The first task being a seat on the cafeteria committee, which plans the meals on the days the justices dine together while hearing oral arguments.

“I think this is a way to kind of humble people,” Kagan 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.”

Kagan then explained just how tedious it can be.

“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 said.

The second task assigned to the junior justice on a court where seniority rules is to take notes when the justices meet in private conference to decide which cases they will take and vote on — a meeting where the justices speak in order of longevity, meaning the junior member goes last.

And the third task is to open the door at these meetings, which Kagan described as the “most important junior justice responsibility.”

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“Literally if I’m like in the middle of a sentence — let’s say it’s my turn to speak or something — and there’s a knock on the door, everybody will just stare at me, waiting for me to open the door,” she said.

Who knew the Supreme Court could be such a fun place!

Tom Tillison


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