Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The questionnaire, part 8

The eighth question in the questionnaire is:

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

U.S. Supreme Court justice.

This seems to me to be the ideal job:

  • You get to make a real difference. You listen to what people have to say, you weigh the arguments on both sides against the constitution, the law, and the precedent, you discuss it with eight other intelligent people, and you have a 1/9 vote on the outcome. And the outcome matters. At the least, what you decide affects at least one person's life. Quite possibly, your decision affects public policy for the United States for decades, or even centuries.
  • You get clerks to do much of the tedious work. You have to know what you're talking about, and you have to read and understand the decisions of others, past and present. But when you need to know whether anyone's every considered a particular issue before, you get a clerk to find out. When you need a quick summary of all 17 related cases in the past 50 years, you have a clerk research them and write the summaries for you to take home and read.
  • You get a great salary for life, even after you retire. And you retire when you want to, and can't be fired nor forced to retire.
  • You answer to no one. It's possible to be impeached and removed if you do something truly egregious, but barring that, you have no boss. In the history of the US Supreme Court, only one Justice, Samuel Chase in 1804, has been impeached, and he was acquited and remained on the court (it was a political move that failed).

You also get to go to work in a cool robe.

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