WHEN YOU nearly succeed in making retired-in-disgrace Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery look like a boy scout, it's time to step down.

With the fumes surrounding Michael Eakin's email porn scandal growing increasingly loathsome, this justice's insistence that he will not resign despite calls from the governor, among others, is a sure sign that he is unqualified and ill-equipped to serve on the highest court in the state.

Speaking for his client, Eakin's attorney told the Inquirer that the judge is not going to resign.

He said "that is not in our package."

We don't know what kind of package he's referring to, but we're sure it's in plain brown wrapping, and it's one we have no interest in opening. Not given the track record of hateful, vulgar, racist, misogynistic images that Eakin has sent and received using state servers with an alias of "John Smith."

We've seen many of these images. They are disgusting.

They are so disgusting, in fact, that yesterday, the Judicial Conduct Board filed misconduct charges against Eakin for engaging in conduct "so extreme that it brought the judicial office into disrepute."

Can Eakin really believe that the kind of images, jokes and other messages he sent are normal workplace communications? Does he think the kind of ignorance and hostility his messages display are OK? That the mind-set these messages suggest doesn't make it highly doubtful he should be in a position to judge others fairly?

Eakin is not the first sign of a troubled court system. Scandals, even jail terms, have become common - in part because in Pennsylvania, judges are not appointed because of their abilities or character, but elected based on how much money they can raise and how effective their campaigns are . . . or worse, their position on a ballot.

But maybe the Eakin case is the tipping point we need to change the system - especially since he continues to suggest there could be a palatable explanation for his actions and behavior.

Following yesterday's misconduct charge, he will make that case in public before a disciplinary tribunal. Sign us up for tickets to that one.

This is not a case of "innocent until proven guilty," unless of course his computer was hacked. But even he has not made that claim. This is a case of a judicial body that must adhere to the highest standards of character and behavior.

Another set of emails revealed over the weekend details Eakin's plans to visit a Myrtle Beach strip club with a colleague. In these, he revealed his standard for sterling behavior: that a discreet judge "has to go out of state to see boobs."

And that's even before he attempted to stack the deck in his favor by participating in a vote to appoint a member to the judicial court that would be reviewing his case, as reported by the Inquirer. The implication was that the new member would rule in his favor. Later, Chief Justice Saylor withdrew the name of the candidate.

Michael Eakin - we have a hard time calling him "Supreme Court Justice" - occupies a high bench. But almost every day, revelations reveal behavior that gets lower and lower. This is a dirty mess that sullies the court and the very concept of justice.