It's Official: The Supreme Court Just Killed the ‘OK, Boomer’ Meme

Chief Justice John Roberts dropped a tentative "OK, Boomer" during arguments in a case about age discrimination.
January 15, 2020, 6:38pm
This Nov. 30, 2018, file photo shows Chief Justice of the United States, John G. Roberts, as he sits with fellow Supreme Court justices for a group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington.

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It’s hard to imagine a more Boomer institution than the Supreme Court, which is why it makes sense that Chief Justice John Roberts uttered the phrase “OK, boomer” for the first time ever on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard Babb v. Wilkie, a case related to age discrimination in federal agencies. And during oral arguments, Roberts asked a hypothetical.

“Let'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, ‘okay, boomer,’ you know, once to the — to the applicant,” Roberts said to laughter. “Is that actionable?”

The case pits Dr. Noris Babb, a pharmacist at a VA Medical Center in Bay Pines, Florida, against the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Babb alleges that after she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, her managers “discriminated against her based on her gender and age” and “subjected her to a hostile work environment,” according to the case.

The case revolves around a question over the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which says that management decisions made about federal employees aged 40 and over “shall be made free from any discrimination based on age.” After making the comment, Roberts voiced his concern that Babb’s argument would lead to “a regulation of speech in the workplace.”

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Babb, the nearly 2.1 million federal employees will be held to the same standard as non-federal employees, who must prove that age discrimination was the reason they were fired or otherwise disciplined, rather than just a motivating factor.

Unfortunately for Roberts, killing a meme won’t be the most notable thing he does this week: The chief justice will likely be sworn in later this week to preside over President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.

Cover image: FILE - This Nov. 30, 2018, file photo shows Chief Justice of the United States, John G. Roberts, as he sits with fellow Supreme Court justices for a group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)