U.S. Supreme Court

Is a hot dog a sandwich? Ginsburg considers Colbert question

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg worked out with Stephen Colbert and answered his frank question: Is a hot dog a sandwich?

The segment that aired Wednesday on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert is getting lots of press attention. The 85-year-old Ginsburg sported a “super diva” sweatshirt while Colbert worked out beside her at the gym and peppered her with questions.

The National Law Journal noted the hot dog exchange:

Colbert: Is a hot dog a sandwich?

Ginsburg: You’re asking me? Well, you tell me what a sandwich is and then I’ll tell you if a hot dog is a sandwich.

Colbert: A sandwich is two pieces of bread with almost any type of filling in between, as long as it’s not more bread.

Ginsburg: You say two pieces of bread. Does that include a roll that’s cut open but still not completely?

Colbert: That’s the crux. You’ve gotten [it] immediately. See this is why you’re on the Supreme Court. That gets immediately to the question: Does the roll need to be separated into two parts? Because a sub sandwich—a sub is not split, and yet it is a sandwich.

Ginsburg: Yes.

Colbert: So then a hot dog is a sandwich?

Ginsburg: On your definition, yes, it is.

The National Law Journal put the question to several U.S. Supreme Court lawyers. Vinson & Elkins partner John Elwood recalled a childhood memory in opining that a hot dog is not a sandwich.

“Think back to when you were a kid and your mom ran out of buns and had to serve you a hot dog on bread, and she sliced the dog in half so it would fit between the slices and not roll out,” he said. “That was, admittedly, a sandwich. But it also was an abomination against all that is good, and inferior in every way to a hot dog.”

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