An Open Letter To John Roberts

We were both National Merit Scholars in the same year, along with Bill Gates. It’s our 50th high school reunion. We both graduated between the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes when Secretariat won the Triple Crown. I went into writing, you went into law. So, please take some advice from a contemporary:

This ain’t gonna get better. It’s going to metastasize.

Everyone but a partisan Republican knows that a Supreme Court Justice accepting a half-million dollar vacation from a party with issues before the court is wrong. Prima facie.

Quid pro quo doesn’t matter. It has the appearance of corruption and Caesar’s wife must be BEYOND reproach.

These are foundational and fundamental ethics.

They go back to Rome and Greece. There is nothing new about them. There is nothing difficult about them. But evidently the frog has been in the heating water so long that he doesn’t know that he’s boiling.

The Supreme Court is in deep ethical trouble with the American people. You mentioned this long before the latest scandals arrived in April of this year. Now, it gets geometrically worse every day.

Your inaction is fatal … to you, your reputation and to the Court. I don’t like to watch someone making a fundamental mistake that will color every aspect of their lives, before and after the fact. You are on the verge of making that mistake.

The Senate can’t help you. Even if they could, they won’t.

Rather than acknowledging that there is a problem, you sent an arrogant and somewhat clueless letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and then, I guess, chivvied and harassed your fellow justices to signing a mea NOT culpa letter that was absurd on the face of it.

Something is wrong, and pretending that it ISN’T is the quickest way to eternal ignominy.

You, as Chief Justice, need to do something to stanch the bleeding as your Court spills whatever remaining credibility it has remaining. The tourniquet of demanding that Justice Thomas resign and save the country a long battle, and preserving his pension may be enough. That might do it. There is probably more, but every day that goes forward, each Justice is imperiled, including, as it turns out, yourself.

No rationalization can make this go away. No imperious attitude and casual pooh-poohing of credible allegations will stop this. By the time this reaches your desk, it will be exponentially worse than it was when I sat down to write this.

You’re a smart guy. You know you’re not bulletproof (metaphorically).

But these are fundamental ethical issues. No one at the West Point, Annapolis or Colorado Springs military academies would have any long cogitation on what’s going down. They would know that they were required by the Code to report the infractions. How much more should Supreme Court Justices know about fundamental ethics?

If you need counseling, your priest can probably help you.

But rather than ignoring the mess, you need to clean it up as rapidly as possible, just like it were a nuclear accident.

The blame, either way, is going to fall on you, and if you care about your legacy, etc. you’d better pay attention. Thus far, your attitude has seemed to the American people as “Let them eat cake.”

Again, as your contemporary, I can only say: you need to stop digging, realize that you’re in a hole and do something decisive about it. Long deliberations are your enemy here. The very credibility of the Court is at stake.

I don’t know whether you will consider any of this. You may just blow it off. But I can promise you this: when the brown stuff hits the rotating blades, please don’t pretend that you weren’t warned.

That’s the whole purpose of this letter. Wake up before it’s too late, if it isn’t already.

Your entire life’s work is on the line. Don’t make a tragic mistake here.

Hesitation would be fatal.

Don’t let hubris wreck the Supreme Court of the United States of America.



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4 responses to “An Open Letter To John Roberts

  1. Patricia Martin

    Shared this because it’s brilliant. No joke. And it’s the first one I’ve read. Say hello to your new fan.


  2. John Twiss

    I have come to the conclusion that it is already too late to save the SCOTUS, indeed, the USA itself has sunk beneath reproach and only the matter of the reserve currency is keeping even the allies tied to it.
    While there are no doubt many Americans of honour and worth, to the world at large, what we see is a dystopian nation, run by charlatans and elected by fools, and one that is on the verge of major catastrophe.


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