Doubting Thomas
Credit: John Darkow, Columbia Missourian / CTNewsJunkie via Cagle Cartoons / ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Susan Campbell

If you’re living the kind of life where rich people don’t fly you to fabulous places, it’s easy to feel left out. You’re tossing pennies into a Mason jar for a family jaunt up to Six Flags New England, and there go Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginni, flitting off on millions of dollars’ worth of yacht and jet rides that take them to stays in fabulous places, according to ProPublica, and every bit of it is free to them.

(We can argue about what accepting such gifts costs you in regard to your mortal soul, but that feels like a whole different conversation.)

What Thomas doesn’t seem to understand – though I suspect he does – is when you are a powerful person and you accept expensive gifts, you give the appearance that there might be an expectation of quid pro quo, and if your Nazi-memorabilia-collecting rich friend also donates millions of dollars to the GOP – including donations to some of your spouse’s conservative endeavors – things get sticky. For what it’s worth – and I’m guessing it’s worth roughly one human soul in 2023 dollars – as a classically-trained journalist, I was taught that a source couldn’t so much as buy me a coffee lest my fealty appear worth roughly that.

More to the point, I was taught that accepting that cup of coffee could damage my reputation, and as a journalist, that is all you have, your reputation. Once you’ve lost that, it is – like virginity – impossible to regain. 

I thought the rules for justices were more stringent, but we are living in a post-Trumpian world free of shame that once followed bad behavior. So here’s my idea, and stop me if you’ve already considered and dismissed it: All of us not in the country club set, should – to the best of our financial abilities – pitch in and purchase a Supreme Court justice of our own. We could treat this as we would a time share, but instead of real estate we’ll share someone with an abundance of power whom we can require to do our bidding. Connecticut has a healthy history of corruption that allows us to buy local politicians, but let’s go big or go home.

As with a timeshare, during particular parts of the year – specifically between the first Monday in October to late June or early July – the justice will be ours to command

Obviously, we’ll need a few more ground rules. If we’re going to go in together, we need to share politics. Thomas’s buddy, Harlan Crow, has the conservative vote locked up, so I suggest we find a progressive judge with morals loose enough they can be bought. I do not intend to name any potential judge-candidates here because I don’t yet have a libel fund that will allow me to defend myself. We can talk about names among ourselves.

Which justice or justices whose influence we purchase will depend on the size of our war chest. I expect we’ll have to start small, nowhere near Crow’s level. We can collect the funds – perhaps in a GoFundMe account, though I checked and found the form to start one confusing. Does this Buy Some Justice fund fall under “Emergencies?” “Monthly bills?” “Other?” Let’s go with “other,” but on second thought, hang onto your cash for now. I’m not comfortable receiving donations yet because frankly, I don’t think I can be trusted. 

I’m still working out a few other details. Should we all donate the same amount for the original buy-in? If one of us meets an untimely death, can our share be passed on to loved ones? Can someone figure out the monthly fee so we can support our personal justice in a style commiserate with the Thomases? Do we offer a discount for, say, college students anxious to make their investments early? And for other people who can’t come up with the initial amount – which I’m still deciding – are they then awarded a shorter time in which they can direct the justice? Or are we voting as a bloc? Should we have a team name? Team color? Does anyone know George Soros?

The idea is still incubating, so I’m willing to entertain your suggestions. However this plays out, it is time for the rest of us to purchase a piece of the American Dream. Today, a Supreme Court justice. Tomorrow? The whole damn bench.

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Susan Campbell

Author of "Frog Hollow: Stories From an American Neighborhood," "Tempest Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker," and "Dating Jesus: Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl." Find more at

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