There Is No Constitutional Right to Eat Dinner

To understand whether Kavanaugh had a right to dinner at Morton's, we must first look to the pre-constitutional context of medieval England to understand dinner's place in the Anglo-American legal tradition.

Antonin Scalia relied upon this time period in his majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, as did Justice Samuel Alito in his majority opinion in Dobbs. There is surely no better way to decide the scope of rights enjoyed by Americans living in 2022 than by surveying the works of legal thinkers from a different country, most of whom died well before the first shot was fired at Lexington and Concord.

In medieval England, Parliament occasionally passed what are known as "sumptuary laws" to regulate private consumption of goods and services. [...] "But, as to excess in diet, there still remains one ancient statute unrepealed, which ordains that no man shall be served at dinner or supper, with more than two courses; except upon some great holy days there specified, in which he may be served with three," he wrote. Kavanaugh himself conceded that the supposed right to dinner did not extend to every course by allegedly skipping out on dessert.

Medieval English laws also sometimes imposed even greater constraints when it came to eating beef on certain days, as may be relevant in Kavanaugh's case. We don't know what he ordered at Morton's, but since it's a steakhouse, we can make some reasonable inferences. A law passed in 1548 under Edward VI authorized fines of 10 shillings or imprisonment of 10 days for any Englishman who ate meat other than fish on the prescribed days, reflecting the common Christian practice at the time. The statute explained that "due and godly abstinence is a mean[s] to virtue" and expounded upon the need to "subdue men's bodies to their soul and spirit." [...]

I also know that my analysis might come as a surprise to a great many Americans, many of whom have quietly enjoyed a right to dinner for their entire lives even if they didn't actively realize it. One of originalism's chief virtues, however, is that nothing is ever really settled in American constitutional law until an originalist says it is. If Morton's wishes to protect the right to eat dinner, it can try to persuade the same people who want to deny it to others. That, in the eyes of this Supreme Court, is what democracy really means.

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J.A. Morrell felt very good about his sausage-shaped airship.

John "James" Andrew Morrell came of age during America's age of charlatans.

It was a thrilling time to be in California. It felt like every day, marvelous new inventions made modern life easier. But along with all that progress came a lot of flimflam. [...]

Thousands of people ran in terror as the sinking balloon headed for the crowd at Milvia and Kittredge. Men were falling or jumping out of the airship onto the ground below. [...] The airship came to rest on a baseball diamond where a game was taking place. The players ran into the wreckage to help the injured crew. [...]

Morrell's fiance rushed to his defense. Only identified as Miss A. Kern from San Francisco, the Tribune said she blamed "disobedience to the orders of Morrell" for the crash. According to National Airship Company employees, the woman had been quietly bankrolling Morrell's folly for the past two years. In fact, she'd blown through $70,000 of her inheritance on his passion project and fell in love with the charismatic inventor along the way.

The romance didn't last -- and neither did the National Airship Company. While still recuperating from his injuries in the hospital, authorities came to arrest Morrell for more allegations of fraud.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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