While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was announcing the House managers for the impeachment proceedings Wednesday morning, Chief Justice John Roberts — who will preside over a Senate trial — was flexing his knowledge of intergenerational catchphrases.
The Supreme Court justices were hearing a case concerning the standard a federal employee must meet to show that his employer had engaged in unlawful age discrimination, when Roberts, 64, uttered the rallying cry of members of Generation Z.
What if a hiring person were to say, “OK Boomer,” Roberts asked. “Is that actionable?”
Laughter ensued in the courtroom. The lawyer at the podium, Roman Martinez, who was born in 1978, didn’t skip a beat even though it was likely the first time the phrase had been uttered in the hallowed chamber.
“Well if the speech in the workplace….calling someone ‘Boomer’ or saying unflattering things about them in age, when considering them for a position, then yes of course,” he said.
Roberts pressed on. “So calling somebody a ‘Boomer’ and considering them for a position would be actionable?” he asked.
“If the decision makers are sitting around the table and they say, ‘we’ve got Candidate A who’s 35’ and ‘we’ve got Candidate B who’s 55 and is a Boomer’ — and is probably tired and you know, doesn’t have a lot of computer skills, I think that absolutely would be actionable. “
The answer seemed to satisfy the Chief, who is the father of two Gen Z’ers, who may or may not have directed the phrase at their father at one time or another.
But the comments came as Roberts — who works largely far away from the camera lens — is about to become much more visible as he is expected to be sworn in soon to preside over the impeachment trial.