07/20/2010 04:10 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Can We Really Afford to Hire Another Supreme Court Justice in This Economy?

It's right there in the name. Supreme.

Nobody's buying supreme these days. As we struggle to climb out of a devastating recession, Americans are being forced to make do with less. Smaller cars. Simpler homes. Even the less supreme of the burrito options on the menu. Times are tough.

But you wouldn't know it by taking a look at the Supreme Court.

Just look at them. Nine people doing one person's job, for starters. Never having to worry about getting fired or missing a paycheck. Wearing a robe provided by and, one can only assume, professionally dry-cleaned on a regular basis using taxpayer money. I mean, who dry-cleans a robe?

Enough is enough. In these trying times, we need to look at ways to cut costs.

We can start by not hiring a replacement for retiring justice John Paul Stevens. There. Think of the money we'll save in salary, health care benefits, monthly parking, and free Red Bulls from the court refrigerator. That saved money goes right to the bottom line. In better times, no doubt, we'd all be glad to have an Elena Kagan bring her intelligence and talent to the highest court in our land. But in these distressed times, "intelligence and talent" is just another way to say "expensive."

Let's not stop there, however. Stop the catered lunches. Make the justices wear their own robes from home. And, for goodness sake, replace those inefficient courtroom artists with someone's nephew and a camera. You can get a nice digital camera for $129.

I know what you're thinking and the answer is no. I don't know what kind of zoom, if any, would be offered on a $129 camera. And, no, the number of justices is not outlined in the Constitution. Congress sets the number. We've had as few as five and as many as ten in our nation's history. Until the economy rebounds, I say we need no more than three. Anything more than that is just being flashy.

The lifetime term limit for justices, however, is most definitely established by Wikipedia to be in the Constitution. So we'll need to get some of them to quit on their own. This downsizing doesn't have to happen overnight. I suggest we turn off the air conditioning in August. Take away parking passes. Tamper with some Coke cans. Whatever we need to do to make life around the office a little less comfortable.

Three justices, wearing their own robes, willing to take the Metro to work. I think that's a smart, cost-effective way for the Supreme Court to move forward in this troubled economy.

At the very least, we need to be smarter about our hiring practices. There are millions of unemployed Americans fighting to stave off home foreclosure. Likewise, there are tens of thousands of recent college and junior college graduates who might look at a seat on the Supreme Court as a wonderful opportunity to build up their resumes. Believe me, a replacement for Justice Stevens can be had for peanuts.