Justices Don’t Need No Ethics*

5 min readMay 7
Photo by Jimmy Woo on Unsplash

The Chief Justice makes a mere $277,700 per year.

Associate Justices make only $265,600.

That’s not enough to even squeak by. They live in the Washington D.C. metro area, after all. Have you seen what a decent meal costs in Georgetown, even without cocktails and wine?

They could be making multiple seven figures in the private sector.

The sacrifices they are making!

If only Congress would pay them what they are worth, what they deserve.

They make nowhere near what they need to support the lavish lifestyles to which they have become, or want to become, accustomed. And they deserve it! They are justices on the highest court in the land. No one stands above them. They’ve reached the summit, climbed and clawed their way to the top of the legal food chain, having endured the often false, usually unfair, sometimes humiliating, always partisan attacks, by the public, the media, and of course the hostile senators in the confirmation process.

Fortunately, some have spouses with independent careers who quietly make up at least some of the difference.

Many well-heeled folks and corporations (redundant, sorry), having become dear friends of justices, are interested in seeing that certain cases are decided correctly. In their generosity, they want only what is best for the court, to make sure their justices whose thinking, hopefully if not coincidentally, aligns with theirs, are rested, clear headed, and, of course, financially unburdened. Likewise, the justices need to be rested, clear headed, and financially unburdened so they can decide the cases correctly. See, it’s a win/win, usually 6–3 or 5–4, but a win/win’s still a win.

Some must rely on the charity of others to pay for life’s necessities, like private schools and extravagant vacations, donations which make their way to the justices in creative ways to evade unnecessary embarrassment or unreasonable scrutiny. Indeed, for some, I’m sure, it is difficult to accept handouts. Because these charitable donations have no influence on decisions the justices make, we have been assured, rules requiring disclosure or recusal are pointless and, frankly, beneath them. They have, after all, passed all ethics tests and earned our complete…


Exercising my right not to remain silent. Criminal defense and First Amendment attorney.