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Don’t know how to spend the $1.6 billion untaxed gift you just received to remake the judiciary? Here are some ideas…

Supreme Court Day Staci Zaretsky

(Photo by Staci Zaretsky)

ed. Note: Please welcome Gabe Roth of Fix the Court to the pages of Above the Law.

In light of the record $1.6 billion donation Leonard Leo received to support his antediluvian views on politics and the law, I got to thinking about what I, as the leader of a nonprofit organization dedicated to judicial transparency in the 21st century, I would do with that. amount of money. If I came up with something good, maybe he’d give me the money? As you read this, I am already on my way to Maine to introduce Leo to the following:

  • Pay everyone’s PACER fees for one year: $143 million
  • For every federal court in the country, purchase cameras and equipment to facilitate live streaming and hire a technician to manage the streams for the next decade: $50 million
  • Hire one investigator per active and senior judge for a decade to ensure every speech is recorded, every trip is reported, and every item is accounted for: $20 million
  • Establish the Antonin Scalia Chair for Judicial Opacity at Harvard and George Mason (do you know how many gratuitous and uninformed hunting trips the guy went on?): $20 million
  • Invite 25 legal ethicists to DC, put them in the Mandarin Oriental for a week, and ask them to analyze the text of a Supreme Court Code of Conduct: $150,000
  • Start a 501(c)(4) to pressure congressional Democrats who are “still considering” whether to support SCOTUS term limits to put their names on one of the bills: $25 million
  • In case the legislative path to SCOTUS term limits doesn’t work out, start Fix the Court chapters in all 50 states (even though we’d only need 38 to incorporate) to pressure legislatures to pass constitutional amendment resolutions on limits of mandate: $10 millionplus another $25 million in ads
  • Buy Ring home security systems for our 2400 federal judges because whatever they have right now is from a single anonymous federal contractor and many judges aren’t using it (PDF pg 3) so someone You must offer a better option, guide them through it and stick with it for the next decade: $10 million
  • Buy a 49% stake in the Mets: $1.2985 billion. Part of this would include changing the team name to the Court-Fixers during the last week of June, during which we would have the following bobblehead giveaways:
    • Sunday: Prof. Pam Karlan, for convincing SCOTUS to end oral discussions at the bar line
    • Monday: Prof. Richard Lazarus, for convincing SCOTUS to publish corrections to slide reviews online
    • Tuesday: Fifth Circuit Judge Robert Ainsworth, Jr., for writing the opinion upholding judicial financial disclosure requirements in the Ethics in Government Act of 1978
    • Wednesday: Justice John Marshall Harlan II, for writing “[T]The day may come when television has become so commonplace in the daily life of the average person as to dispel all reasonable probability that its use in courtrooms will bring discredit to the judicial process.
    • Thursday: Justice Tom Clark, for being the justice among 116 to serve closest to age 18 and for retiring to avoid a barrage of recusals
    • Friday: Judge Sandra Day O’Connor, for writing opinion upholding age limits for Missouri judges
    • Saturday: Judge Thurgood Marshall, for giving public access to his documents after his death

Of course, there are countless ways to spend this ungodly amount of cash. But what is clear is that the goal of the gift is to use the judiciary as a tool to take our country back to a time before we were a modern, pluralistic society. One point six billion dollars is a lot of Benjamins, and will sadly cement the legacies of Clarence, John, Sam, Neil, Brett and Amy unless there are significant changes at SCOTUS, and fast.


Gabe Roth is the executive director of Fix the Court, a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization that advocates for a more open and accountable federal judiciary. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and his 13-month-old daughter.

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