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The chain steakhouse buffer zone doctrine


Alexandra Petri on claims that Brett Kavanaugh has the inalienable right to exit a D.C. steakhouse without having to face protestors:

Can we update our thinking on this point at all, given that Pythagoras was operating in the 6th century BCE and the bean thing sounds made up? No. Tradition is the bedrock of all jurisprudence. To those who would suggest that we evolve, or that we not impose our religious or leguminous beliefs on others, I say, “HERETIC! HERETIC! TORCHES, QUICKLY!”

I understand that all this may seem counterintuitive to Justice Kavanaugh, as a person who lives in the present time and is accustomed to thinking of himself as an entity entitled to respect and endowed with the power to make choices for himself and his family.

He might want his old freedom back, or ask for someone to escort him through the gantlet of protesters who want him to feel bad about his choices, which after all don’t affect anyone other than millions of people whose lives are going to be fundamentally changed and whom he is consigning to a status lower than that of full person with the bodily autonomy and right to direct their lives that this entails.

He might say, “This is a horrible constraint to put on me! I am just trying to live my life, with my family, according to my own lights! I just want to have dinner, like a person!” And I sympathize! I would love to find that this was a right. But there is no right, however seemingly basic, that cannot vanish away like a ghostly mist the second someone remembers that there might be a medieval text, somewhere, out there that disagrees. And the Bible. And the beans. I’m sorry! My hands are tied.

The next person to coherently explain why ordinary people getting a medical procedure have to be allowed to have people get right in their face but powerful public officials should never have to face political protestors when exiting a restaurant will be the first.

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