“Offer Large Sums of Public Money”: Law Professor Calls for Congress to “Buyout” Conservative Justices

Critics of the Supreme Court have tried every means to change the balance or decisions of the Court from threats of impeachment to harassing justices at homes or restaurants.  Some of these reckless measures have been encouraged by law professors, including a Georgetown law professor who encouraged more “aggressive” measures targeting the justices.  Now, Seton Hall Law Assistant Dean Brian Sheppard has called for Congress to “buyout” justices by offering them “large sums of money.” If needed, he suggests that President Joe Biden could scrape up the dough to prompt justices to cash in and get out.

Dean Sheppard insists that offering large sums “could be effective without harming the integrity of the institution.” Many of us would beg to differ.

While Sheppard speaks to the benefit of encouraging general turnover on the Court, he also notes that “the most pronounced turn in favorability coincided with the recent shift to a 6-3 split in favor of Republican-appointed justices.”

In fairness to Sheppard, most of his column uses buyouts to discourage justices from staying on the Court until a president with shared values is available to appoint his or her successor. He notes: “But Supreme Court justices are human, and humans care about more than just politics. They care about money, too.”

It turns out that the majority of justices who would be offered the windfall payments would be republican appointees. (Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan). That would allow President Biden to appoint an instant five justice majority as well as the Chief Justice.

While Sheppard acknowledges that some will object that “To the many people who are angry at the Court, buyouts might seem like rewards for bad behavior.” However, he says it is easier than packing the Court or changing it through a constitutional amendment.

So here is the offer from the Luca Brasi school of judicial integrity:

“Congress should offer substantial buyouts to any Supreme Court justices who retire when they reach 10 years of service on the High Court. The five justices who have already exceeded that number should be eligible for the payment if they retire within one year. To overcome the considerable allure of ideological power, the sum should be in the millions.”

It only gets worse, however. Dean Sheppard suggests that “If Congress cannot be persuaded to pass a buyout plan, then President Biden might be able to gather sufficient discretionary funds for that purpose with money under his control.”

So we would have President Joe Biden offering millions to conservative justices to leave the Court — and change the philosophical makeup to be more favorable to the Democrats.

Dean Sheppard dismisses any concerns over creating a seats-for-cash deal. Not only is this proposal treated as harmless, but he suggests that those who decline are only showing their untoward or nefarious motives: “A justice’s refusal will provide useful information to the public, making it easier to assess the degree to which they are beholden to the power of the office and, in turn, to the political commandment.”

It could also be due to the fact that Sheppard’s proposal would be viewed as highly offensive and dangerous to many jurists and lawyers. Article III bestows lifetime tenure to prevent justices from being pressured or manipulated by political figures.

He admits that “[o]ffering large sums of public money to the powerful is not an ideal solution.” However, he cites the failure of Congress to change the Court’s composition as necessitating such action and “the legislative impasse . . . forces us to consider second-best measures. The Supreme Court might not deserve a carrot, but a big one can get it to move when the stick is broken.”

Here is an alternative idea. Why not put away both the stick and the carrot and allow the Court to function as originally designed? It is at least a thought.

In Federalist 78, Alexander Hamilton explained that lifetime tenure was to insulate the court from manipulation or influence:

“In a monarchy it is an excellent barrier to the despotism of the prince; in a republic it is a no less excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body. And it is the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws.”

The idea of seats-for-cash only seemed to arise when the Court’s balance shifted to a stable conservative majority and, as Dean Sheppard noted, legislative solutions could not be found to changing the Court. The Court does not need either a carrot or a stick. It requires a respect for the institution as a whole regardless of whether it is yields to the views of Congress or the public. The seats-for-cash offer is as insulting as it is dangerous for the Court.


68 thoughts on ““Offer Large Sums of Public Money”: Law Professor Calls for Congress to “Buyout” Conservative Justices”

  1. Why do these people keep pulling on a door marked “push”? The right answer for the pro-abortion (and no, it’s no longer “prochoice;” only one choice is acceptable anymore) is to refocus resources on the state legislatures & Congress. For the next decade or so the Supreme Court is a dead end. They don’t respond to lobbying and demonstrations. Politicians do.

  2. Suppose, then, a conservative group comes up with a more lucrative counter offer…

  3. Leave it to a quasi nutcase left leaning proff to come up with a scheme to payoff whom they disagree with so “they” can have their way. Pure insanity and corruption with the worst kind of grift of all. It’s like Rome of old before it’s collapse of the purse , morals and country,

  4. First fulfill your academic obligations and then you will have the right to call yourself a leader of the left.

    Salvador Allende

  5. Another way to put this is that it’s a bribe. Democrats want to use public funds to bribe conservative justices to retire, allowing Democrats to pick the successors. Bribery, cheating, and dirty politics.

    1. i hope you are wrong.

      Not many Americans are familiar with Latin American history.
      Democrats today are channeling Salvador Allende while Donald Trump supporters are channeling Augusto Pinochet. Both are practicing destruction of our civilization. Neither should be permitted.

      It’s much harder to bring about socialism through legal means, because there are so many possibilities for opposition.
      Salvador Allende

      Sometimes democracy must be bathed in blood……Everything I did, all my actions, all of the problems I had I dedicate to God and to Chile, because I kept Chile from becoming Communist.
      Augusto Pinochet

  6. How about a 15 miilion dollar mansion beach front on Martha’s Vinyard. It worked for Obama.

    1. “It worked for Obama.”

      – IB

      The Global, Communist, American, Deep Deep State Swamp “worked for” Obama.

      Obama wasn’t even eligible; the Deep Deep State ensconced him despite his complete preclusion by fundamental law.

    2. It didn’t seem to work for Obama — he seems to be wielding as much influence as before “retirement”.

    3. Not to mention his new Hawaiian Mansion built with neighbors complaining about the erosion of the fragile beachline. No climate change emergency for Saint Obama!!!

  7. Great idea! Biden could ask Hunter for the money. Now, I know it would exceed the big guy’s usual 10 percent figure but what the heck, go for it! Covid exposed the atupidity of some of our grade school and high school teachers and helped create the parents movment whose strength will be felt this fall. Now, the post-Covid period is exposing the ineptitude of our law schools and why newly turned out lawyers are imbiciles and wind up being bartenders and Uber drivers.

  8. If you want to know something about the person, Brian Sheppard, google Brian Sheppard v. Leon Beerman. It will tell you all you need to know about Mr. Sheppard.

    1. Wow! What a nutcase! How in the world did this moron Sheppard ever land a job as a law professor?

  9. So they are simply exposing to the public what their practices have always been. This is the problem with republics, this is why they are one of the worst forms of government. The middle people can be bought. And, it happens all the time, they call it campaign donations for starters. That’s just the legal mechanism, not to mention the huge amount of illegal money transfers.

  10. Money always worked with the Clintons, the Bidens and the Pelosi’s.

  11. Payoff justices? The world truly has gone mad. At a minimum, Brian Sheppard has gone mad. I’d say he needs a checkup.

    1. Someone who cheated to get into office and who appointed 3 judges to lifetime appointments specifically because they had been vetted by the ultra right wing Federalist Society for the purpose ot taking away womens’ Constitutionally-protected right of privacy and self-determination, and who LIED about their opinions on the issue of abortion just to get onto the court of last resort? Never before in US history has the SCOTUS taken away a right found to exist under the Constitution. The views of these extremists are drastically right of the views and values of most Americans. They need to go. Their presence is wrongful, just like the wrongful and phony “presidency” of the one who appointed them. Buy them off, if possible, but America deserves a Supreme Court that reflects the values and beliefs of most of us instead of the 30%.

  12. Your Godfather reference is misused. It would be “an offer they can’t refuse” if they outright threatened their lives. I don’t know why you didn’t use the word “bribe” to describe “bribing justices”. I would take the bribe, but not for less than a trillion.

  13. Jonathan,

    What’s your Number?
    The amount of Money you would need to be able to walk away from it all and just live happily-ever-after.
    Everybody has one — it’s an exact number — what’s yours?

  14. Some rich person could offer money for them to retire in. A million might do it. Maybe ten million.

  15. “ATTENTION” K-Mart Shoppers !!!
    We have a Flashing Blue-Light Retirement Special in the SCOTUS Isle.
    Hurry before They are all gone.

  16. Isn’t this kind of corruption the reason we have the 17th amendment?

  17. Justices of the Supreme Court are subject to impeachment and conviction, per the U.S. Constitution which holds dominion.

    Seton Hall Law Assistant Dean Brian Sheppard must be indicted for incitement to subversion, insurrection, usurpation, espionage and treason.

    1. “Seton Hall Law Assistant Dean Brian Sheppard must be indicted for incitement to subversion, insurrection, usurpation, espionage and treason.” — That seems a bit harsh…why not offer him a buck 25 to quit, instead? Sounds about like value for money…

  18. Those in ivory towers are the most cluelss about people. So naive.

    Money is NOT the universal motivator this educated idiot claims. Once you reach a comfortable level, money is not important. Your needs AND wants are met. What do you do with the rest? $ 3 million only pads your net worth. Real Power (the ultiimate asset) is what the justices would give up, in lieu of cash.

    The reverse would actually motivate people. Sell the next seat on the Court. Then you will get a hint about the power in play.

  19. I have one question: what entity remains that can take down the largest organized crime syndicate in the world (US Government)?

    1. Ah, the Global American Communist Deep Deep State Swamp, a formidable foe.

      “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

      – Declaration of Independence, 1776

      Just make sure those guillotines don’t turn on you.

      1. I’ve read that no more than 45% of the colonists wanted independence, no more than 25% were loyalists and the rest were undecided. I suspect the number’s “loyal” to the current administrative state to be similar and the undecided number to be shrinking as they join those opposing the regime. The real problem is with the “unelected” permanent bureaucracy. SCOTUS gave a shot across the bow with the WV v EPA decision. The voters are now on the clock.


          How many sheep wanted to go to the slaughterhouse…yet, off they went?

          Every human endeavor is initiated and completed by leaders, no?

    2. Olly asks:

      “what entity remains that can take down the largest organized crime syndicate in the world (US Government)?”

      You “Deep State” Trumpists should heed the words of Turley that American institutions like the SC deserve our respect:

      “It requires a respect for the institution as a whole regardless of whether it is yields to the views of Congress or the public.”

      Turley does NOT share the Trumpists’ lack of faith in our government as a whole. He has never expressed any sentiment to suggest that the U.S. government is an “organized crime syndicate.” He is a NeverTrumper, thank goodness.

      1. The singular American failure has been and remains the SCOTUS, beginning in 1860 – even though Taney tried on Lincoln’s unconstitutional suspension of habeas corpus, Lincoln must have been overturned on fully constitutional secession – it’s been all down-the-communist-hill ever since.

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