Supreme Court travels in style
Fast on the heels of news that Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille accepts gifts from those with matters before him (and it’s perfectly legal as long as it’s disclosed) comes word of state appellate justices’ sweetheart leases of luxury vehicles at taxpayer expense.
As the Tribune-Review’s Brad Bumsted and Debra Erdley documented on Sunday, Cadillacs, Lexuses, a Mercedes-Benz and high-end SUVs are among the vehicles being underwritten for all but one judge of the seven-member Supreme Court. Superior and Commonwealth court judges have the same perk. And all receive gasoline reimbursements as well.
The appellate judges are among the highest paid in the nation. These leases run as high as $600 a month. And that’s not including the taxpayer-underwritten insurance on these vehicles.
To wit, for Chief Justice Castille, the public pays $568 a month for the lease of a 2010 Cadillac plus more than $130 monthly for insurance. Never mind that there are vehicles available in the state fleet for as little as $230 a month.
Among the general defenses of such a perk — all-wheel-drive big cars are needed for bad weather and the amount of driving warrants them, never mind that at least two judges billed taxpayers to fly to court sessions or meetings.
To the first point, dare we suggest a few bags of sand in the trunk of a more economical vehicleâ¢ To the second, why should the public cover the cost of a vehicle and flights?