😱 When Justices Go A-Courtin’…To Colleges: Perks, Pitfalls, and Pesky Ethical Questions🔍

Some might call it networking, others… well… questionable ethical praxis? The top dogs in the U.S judiciary, Supreme Court Justices, have been found brushing shoulders with big money donors during campus visits. A bit too cozy for comfort? You decide! 🤔💼⚖️💰

📚Story Time:

Guess who’s coming to dinner? No, it’s not Sidney Poitier, but a Supreme Court Justice! When Justice Clarence Thomas was the star attraction at a 2017 program at McLennan Community College in Texas, the agenda seemed to be a bit more than academic discourse.

By “working” with the (now infamous) conservative lawyer Ken Starr, the school had put together a guest list that was more moneyed than academic. So, was the aim to charm and disarm potential donors over canapes and crème brûlée? Seemingly so! 😏💵

That wasn’t the only occasion. When Justice Elena Kagan took a trip to the University of Colorado’s law school in 2019, the Boulder official’s guest list logic ran along the lines of “the bigger the donor, the better the dinner.” An enticing idea for Justice Kagan? We’d love to have been a fly on the wall at that one! 🕵️‍♂️🍽️💰

How about a private luncheon with Justice Sonia Sotomayor? Now that sounds pretty swish! The folks at Clemson University certainly thought so, and made sure to roll out the red carpet for their biggest donors. In fact, those donating a cool $1 million-plus were top of the invite list. Phew! Imagine the size of that lunch bill! 🤑🍾🎉

So, are Supreme Court Justices knowingly part of this high-end hobnobbing, or are they merely unwitting pawns in a game of college fundraising chess? While the answer isn’t clear, these revelations sure have sparked some hearty debates on judicial ethics.🔥🤔

One such ethics expert, University of Virginia law professor Amanda Frost, stated, “The justices should be aware that people are selling access to them,” continuing, “they certainly have been putting themselves in situations where people can credibly claim, ‘I’m giving you access,’ or ‘I’m going to fundraise off my claimed closeness or access.’ And that is a problem.”

In response to this ethical eye-opener, the Supreme Court stated that they regularly remind event organizers that any Justice-involved event should not be a fundraiser. Yet, the line between fundraising and ‘friend-raising’ seems blurred at best, wouldn’t you say? 🤷‍♀️

Here’s an intriguing twist – if the Justices were lower court federal judges, such interactions would likely be prohibited. But, it seems that the Supreme Court’s definition of banned fundraising is narrower than a pin’s head. The result? A loophole big enough to drive a coach and horses through, allowing all sorts of future ‘friend-raising’ possibilities. Convenient, no? 🤨

Despite these slippery-slope scenarios, the fundamental question remains: Is it ethically sound for these figureheads of justice to fraternize with big-money donors at college events, or is it simply a matter of perspective?

What do you think? 🤷‍♂️ Should our Supreme Court Justices be hitting the books or hitting the buffet with big-money donors? 📚🆚💰 Debate in the comments! 🔥👇👇