“Justice Alito defended himself in a pre-emptive article in the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal before the news organization ProPublica posted its account of a luxury fishing trip in 2008. His response comes as the justices face mounting scrutiny over their ethical obligations to report gifts and to recuse themselves from cases involving their benefactors.” — New York Times
The insinuation that I could be swayed to change my decisions in an influential court case by gifts is outrageous. Are little presents welcome and appreciated? Of course. But they are unnecessary, and most gifts will barely sway my opinion, if at all. No pressure either way, but household goods do make me feel especially partisan. If you insist on buying me something in anticipation of a ruling on your case, please refer to the Justice Registry.
KitchenAid Mixer ($449.99) – It goes without saying that no gift could ever compromise my ethics and moral code, but an artisan mixer comes pretty darn close. I’ll never forget the day I made my decision in West Virginia v. EPA to gut the agency’s ability to regulate emissions. It was the same day I baked an Oreo peanut butter pie using my 10-speed stand mixer, which was delivered straight from Wheeling in a mine cart full of coal. The problem is not that the Republican supermajority has emboldened me—it’s that I can’t think about climate change and whisk at the same time.
Wine (Minimum $1000) – If you’re unsure which wine to buy, just google “most expensive wines.” Send me a bottle of anything worth more than one thousand dollars, and then I will vote favorably in your case upholding gerrymandered districts in Alabama. Better act fast, though: two weeks ago, the other justices did not receive their bottles of Cheval Blanc in time and voted not to gut the Voting Rights Act.
Crockpot ($43.99) – Some people will say that gifts should not shape the legal future of this country. Those people have never used a crockpot. The most influential decision I ever made was to cook beef bourguignon using Julia Child’s recipe. It was the day after Citizens United v. FEC, which gave corporations unfettered lobbying power forever. Dilettantes will argue that opening the door for corruption in politics was more consequential than the crockpot, but they should try the stew.
Citrus Juicer ($199.95) – I hate to admit it, but if you show up to a Supreme Court hearing with a stainless steel citrus juicer and a cup of freshly squeezed OJ, all partiality is going out the window. Ask me to undo Brown v. Board of Education. Don’t be shy, really, just ask. I would undo the entire Civil Rights era if you wrapped the juicer nicely and included a basket of curated fruits.
Cash ($$$) – You might think that someone with the most important job in the country wouldn’t act with such impunity when it comes to receiving gifts from individuals who are involved in my cases, but you would be wrong. Perhaps my favorite gift to receive is an envelope full of cash, which is how I made my decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In this case, the Dobbs lawyers sent a bag of quarters I used to do laundry. It might seem like a small amount of money to restrict the bodily autonomy of millions of Americans, but that’s because I’m a morally bankrupt person.
Belgian Waffle Maker ($39.49) – The only conflict of interest I care about is whether or not I’m having pancakes or waffles for breakfast.
Panini Press ($39.99) – Legal experts might argue that it would be easier if the final arbiter of the law, whose impartiality is essential, couldn’t receive gifts at all. That way, there would be no question of integrity, equality, and fairness for the guardians and interpreters of the Constitution. Unfortunately, I want to make restaurant-quality sandwiches from the comfort of my own home. If I have to put the fate of democracy in danger so I can enjoy a grilled chicken avocado panini, then so be it.