The Lifestyle of Supreme Court Justices Is Right For Me!

From a Washington Post column by Alexandra Petri headlined “The Supreme Court justice lifestyle is for me!”:

I did not used to think I wanted to be a Supreme Court justice. First, it sounded as though you needed to know a lot of law, which sounded time-consuming. That required probably years of your life and taking a class called Torts, which would sadden me because every day I would hope that cake would be involved and every day it would not be. Also, you would have to pass the bar exam. And then for the rest of your career, you would have to carry around several leather-bound books in case you forgot what the law was.

So much for law school. The process of getting on the court sounded … not exactly optimal. Any time you have to sit and hear Lindsey Graham’s opinion about whether you should get to do a job before you get to do that job, you start to question things.

Even the power seemed limited at best. If you got into the legal business because your passion was yanking rights out from under people, like rugs, you could not simply do it willy-nilly. You had to wait around for a case to arise, involving actual people, before you could weigh in. You could not simply have someone invent made-up people who wanted a website and rule on that hypothetical. (At least, you used to not be able to.)

Also, you had to work in D.C., a city where the weather was bad in some way all of the time except for a few weeks when the National Mall was overrun with tourists. You could not just go golfing whenever you wanted; nor could you enjoy prime, unparalleled views of Jackson Hole, world-class fishing and dining, or unfettered access to a private jet.

Granted, the job had some upsides. You got to wear a robe to work, which gave everything a fun, spa-like atmosphere, and underneath that robe you could wear whatever you wanted. And you got to make the law of the land and, occasionally, decide things like who got to be president and who could have control of their wombs seized by the state. (These were not the same people.) You also got to make decisions that, ultimately, would determine a huge amount of the dialogue on “Law & Order.”

But I see now that I was wrong to rule out this career. I believe the amount of law you need to know was greatly exaggerated. Supreme Court justice is the lifestyle for me. ProPublica, which, as I understand it, is a publication dedicated entirely to concocting ludicrous fantasy vacations I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams and then revealing that Justice Clarence Thomas has been on them (among other perks), has just revealed even more luxury vacations that Thomas has taken, with the assurance that this is “almost certainly an undercount” of the luxurious, undisclosed travel he has received. Now that is a disclaimer! (Most Supreme Court justices take only one or two vacations per year. Vacations Thomas, who takes 3,800 annually, is an outlier and should not have been counted.)

I did not know about all the perks! I did not know you got assigned a personal billionaire (or several) and got to live the lifestyle of one of America’s wealthier car dealers. I did not know you would not only get to travel with them, be serenaded with their custom you-inspired songs (is this a perk?) and get to visit their humble, rustic lodges but also get to travel without them, in their planes. Nor did I realize that the benefits would not stop there!

Exclusive golf club access! Sports tickets in fancy boxes! All the football you can eat! RVs! Yachts! Helicopters! It’s a miracle the justices manage to take any rights away from anyone! They are always off on vacation somewhere, on someone else’s dime — indeed, I would not call this living on someone else’s dime. There is no way a dime covers all this!

I am going to rethink my life! I thought if you wanted your reality to be jetting from beach to beach and experiencing prime seats at concerts and sporting events, you had to be born a Kardashian or some sort of minor oil baron. I thought you could not also have a day job in D.C. where you got to work in a nice marble building and tell people whether things are legal or not and whether they can be president, or alive.

I thought if I wanted to ride in helicopters and play golf in exclusive venues, I would have to give up my dream of unlimited power over other people’s lives. But now I see I was wrong. I was also wrong about needing to know all those laws and precedents! Anyway, I would like to be a Supreme Court justice now. My only complaint for the current justices, until I can join them, is that if you are going to take all these vacations at the behest of billionaires, I wish you would not also come back from those vacations and take my rights away. Just stay on vacation, I say.

Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of “AP’s US History: Important American Documents (I Made Up).

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