Thursday, October 21, 2010

Buying Supreme Court Justices

There have always been corrupt judges. Although they were punished more harshly in the past (Sisamnes of Persia) than they are now (Alcee Hastings of Florida).

Bribing United States Supreme Court justices was rare, not because they are any more honest than other people but because it just wasn't very cost efficient. Bribe a circuit court judge and you can get away with murder but you never know if a valuable case will get to the Supreme Court. Besides, it is cheaper to bribe at the appellate level.

That seems to be changing thanks to the open corruption of Clarance Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Thomas, through his wife, has set up a bribe receiving service called Liberty Central where people and corporations wishing to buy favors from Justice Thomas can give tax deductible gifts. No under-the-table envelopes, you can buy Justice Thomas' court rulings with just a few convenient mouse clicks.

Scalia, true to his nature, is more old school. He doesn't so much sell his decisions as he sells his soul. He'll take the frequent lavish gift, but more than that he is worried about the future of judicial graft. He is afraid some future honesty fad could destroy the culture of corruption he enjoys. In opinion after opinion, Scalia has ruled in defense of the right to give and take bribes. (Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., Fischer v. U.S., Citizens United).

Scalia and Thomas may skip the State of the Union address but they do attend Koch Industries political events. Anyone who believes they are not royally compensated for their attendance is hopeless naive.

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