Tag Archives: Thomas

Democrats Introduce Bill that Could Lead to Impeachment for Justices Thomas and Scalia

I’m not sure if Justices Scalia and Thomas can actually be impeached but the idea is intriguing nonetheless…

PoliticusUSA

On Thursday, a group of Democratic lawmakers proposed a law to establish a Code of Conduct  for the Supreme Court.

It’s surely to have Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Scalia quaking in their Tea Party boots because it would mean they would actually have to be independent of political and other influences. They would also have to have the appearance of independence.  They would have to stay away from political activity. That part would be really hard.

As it stands, this law would help guarantee that Supreme Court Justices are held to the same ethical standards we expect of other judges.

As Senator Blumenthal said:

This legislation’s goal is to preserve public trust and confidence – the lifeblood of the Supreme Court – after claims of questionable conduct by some Justices, No Justice, any more than a judge, should advance a partisan cause or sit on a case involving a personal friend or interest. There is no persuasive reason in law or logic why Supreme Court Justices should not be held to the same high standard as other federal judges.

The proposed law holds the Supreme Court to the same standards required of judges in the federal court system. Currently, Justices on the Supreme Court decide for themselves if they should recuse themselves from cases in which they may have a personal stake or in Thomas’ case, his wife has a political or financial stake as a holy roller in the Tea Party.

Justices Thomas and Scalia who attended a few partisan fundraisers also ruled in favor of the conservatives raising questions about their independence.  This was especially true in Citizens United because that ruling undid decades of established law.

Both of these actions violate the code of conduct already in place for Federal court judges.

We saw how well leaving Supreme court Justices to their own devices worked out when Justice Thomas ruled on the Affordable Care act, while his wife Ginni was  paid to lobby against the law.   The fact that Thomas “forgot” ,  to disclose Ginni’s income from lobbying against healthcare – even after she supposedly ceased lobbying against healthcare doesn’t help.  That would have been more than just an oops moment had there been a code of conduct for the Supreme Court. Thomas’  conflict of interest problems are not restricted to benefits to Ginni.

Questions about Thomas and Scalia’s judicial independence are nothing new.  We saw it when both Supreme Court Justices attended a  Koch Brothers fundraiser in 2010 and the Federalist Society fundraiser  they attended in 2011, Thomas’ failure to disclose the sources Ginni’s income for six years also came out in 2011.    A code of ethics for the Supreme Court is a bill whose time came a few years ago and has increasing importance given Ginni Thomas’s involvement with Groundswell.

As noted by Media Matters,

The recent Groundswell memoranda obtained by David Corn of Mother Jones reveal that these conflicts are getting worse.

Ginni Thomas was the founder and leader of Liberty Central, a political nonprofit “dedicated to opposing what she characterizes as the leftist ‘tyranny’ of President Obama and Democrats in Congress.” The group wasfunded by Harlan Crow, frequent patron of the Thomas’ projects and causes and a financial supporter of right-wing campaigns such as the “swift boat” attacks on then-presidential candidate John Kerry and the advertising push to confirm President George W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominees. Crow also serves on the board of the American Enterprise Institute, whose Edward Blum brought the two most recent attacks on the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action before the Supreme Court. Justice Thomas favored Blum’s positions against progressive precedent on both civil rights issues.

Had Federal Court judges been as ethically challenged  as Clarence Thomas, they would have been forced to resign. Considering that the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, it seems the bar for ethical standards should be the same as those for lower courts – if not higher.

If the Supreme Court had a code of conduct, Thomas would have had to recuse himself on several cases in which his wife’s high profile within the Tea Party would scream of bias.  Had he failed to do so, there would be a legal basis with teeth to seek Thomas’ resignation.  For Thomas and Scalia defenders  tempted to question the constitutionality of holding Supreme Court Justices to ethics, Article 3 of the constitution says justices “shall hold their offices during good behaviour. If independence from pillow talk with a political lobbyist isn’t good behavior, I don’t know what is.

Let’s face it, if you are sleeping with someone within a political party whose agenda is to prevent certain classes of eligible voters from voting, the odds of forgetting that fact while considering the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act are zero – or at least it sure looks that way to any reasonable person.  The same holds true when you at least look like you might be having pillow talk with someone with a political stake in the Defense of Marriage Act.

One can point to Justice Kagan’s ethical standards as proof that Supreme Court Justices can and do take principles like judicial independence and the appearance of it seriously.  Then one is reminded of Justices Thomas and Scalia.

This law would address one of the many problems created by the sort of corruption that has become synonymous with the Republican Party and its puppet masters.  But then, that would mean doing something constructive and it would also mean that the separation of powers are in fact separate, rather than subject to pillow talk between one Supreme Court Justice and one member of the Groundswell propaganda alliance.

 

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Is Ginni Thomas’ Expanding Activism a Problem for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas?

Rex Curry/ZumaPress Chris Zumma/ZumaPress

This issue was raised by then Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY).  Shortly after tweeting about the Thomas’ questionable political ties, his first round of infamous tweets became public.    Weiner tried to tell anyone that would listen that Thomas should not be on the bench.  Weiner and the late Andrew Breitbart got into a very public Twitter feud over the entire issue.

Just saying…

Mother Jones

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas is no ordinary Supreme Court spouse. Unlike Maureen Scalia, mother of nine, or the late Martin Ginsburg, mild-mannered tax law professor who was good in the kitchen, Thomas came from the world of bare-knuckled partisan politics. Over the years, she has enmeshed herself ever more deeply in the world of political advocacy—all the while creating a heap of conflict of interest concerns surrounding her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Her role in Groundswell, the coalition of conservatives waging a “30 front war” against progressives and the GOP establishment that was revealed by Mother Joneson Thursday, revives questions about the propriety of Thomas’ activism on issues that have or could become the subject of Supreme Court cases.

Conflict of interest issues were first aired during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings in 1991, when critics argued that Ginni Thomas’ political work might compromise her husband’s objectivity. At that time, her political resume included stints as a Capitol Hill aide to a Republican congressman; a staffer at the US Chamber of Commerce, where she fought the Family and Medical Leave Act; and as a political appointee at the Labor Department during the first Bush administration. Thomas didn’t leave politics after her husband was confirmed. “I did not give up my First Amendment rights when my husband became a justice of the Supreme Court,” she has said in the past. She would later return to the Hill as a staffer to House majority leader Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas) and work for the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank. But in those jobs, Thomas kept a relatively low profile.

That changed around the same time that the tea party exploded in American politics, and Thomas became an outspoken member of the movement. In late 2009, Thomas founded the political advocacy group Liberty Central, which would later become a fierce player in the opposition to health care form. Detractors pointed out that Liberty Central was a potential vehicle for people with interests before the Supreme Court to make anonymous donations that might influence her husband.

The group was formed with a $500,000 anonymous donation that came as the Supreme Court was considering Citizens United, a case that ultimately resulted in loosening the restrictions on corporate giving to political campaigns. The anonymous donor was later revealed to be Harlan Crow, the Texas real estate developer. Crow was also a friend of Clarence Thomas’, and he was later linked to a scandal involving the justice’s failure to publicly disclose gifts from the developer and trips aboard his private jet. (It didn’t help that Justice Thomas had also failed to include his wife’s $150,000 annual salary from Liberty Central on his financial disclosure forms, which he later had to amend.) In January 2011, the good-government group Common Cause asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Justice Thomas should have recused himself from Citizens United based on his wife’s role at Liberty Central. (Common Cause also asked the IRS to revoke Liberty Central’s nonprofit status. Nothing came of either request.)

Continue here…

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Cal Thomas Apologizes To Rachel Maddow For Contraception Comment (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post

Rachel Maddow revealed on her Friday show that columnist and Fox News pundit Cal Thomas had personally apologized to her after saying that she was a good argument for contraception.

Thomas called Maddow “the best argument in favor of her parents using contraception” during a panel at the annual CPAC conference in Washington on Thursday. He was immediately criticized for the comment, including from his Fox News colleague Greta Van Susteren, who called on him to apologize publicly and privately.

Maddow responded to Thomas’ comments on her Thursday show. On Friday, she told her viewers that Thomas had called her the next morning and said he was sorry.

“He didn’t mean it and he wished he hadn’t said it,” Maddow said. “I completely believe his apology. I completely accept his apology.”

She also thanked Van Susteren for coming to her defense, calling it “really nice, particularly given that she works” at Fox News with Thomas.

 

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Clarence Thomas Assailed For Alleged Ethical Lapses By More House Dems

It’s about time that more than just liberal bloggers and Anthony Weiner are noticing Justice Clarence Thomas’ ethics issues…

The Huffington Post

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) is turning up the heat on Justice Clarence Thomas based on new information that builds upon previous reports of his alleged ethical lapses.

In late September, Slaughter had sent a letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States to request official action on Thomas’ multiyear failure to disclose his wife’s income from various conservative think tanks and activist organizations. The Judicial Conference is the principal policy-making and administrative body for the federal court system.

On Friday, Slaughter submitted a new letter, this time addressed to Chief Justice John Roberts in his capacity as the presiding officer of the Judicial Conference, to update and clarify the September letter.

At issue is the fact that Thomas repeatedly checked a box titled “none” on annual financial disclosure forms in response to a question about the sources of spousal income. Yet during those years, his wife, Virginia Thomas, worked for the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation and for the Tea Party lobbying group Liberty Central, which she helped found.

The first letter asserted that Thomas’ nondisclosures persisted “[t]hroughout his entire tenure of the Supreme Court,” which began in 1991. It was fair to infer from his “high level of legal training and experience,” Slaughter wrote, that the justice’s failure presented the type of “willful” behavior that federal law requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the Department of Justice for investigation.

Friday’s letter, however, states that Thomas actually did report the sources of his wife’s income until 1997, therefore heightening the inference that the justice had not “misunderstood the reporting instructions,” as he asserted in January when he filed seven pages of addenda correcting his omissions over a six-year period. Citing information obtained by the left-leaning watchdog groups Common Cause and Alliance for Justice, Slaughter wrote that “Justice Thomas accurately filed his financial disclosure forms, including his wife’s employment, for as many as 10 years beginning in 1987 when he was Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

Continue reading here…

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Scalia and Thomas dine with healthcare law challengers as court takes case

The Supreme Court of the United States has decided to hear a challenge to the POTUS’ Health Care Law.  Having said that, what the hell are Justices Scalia and Thomas doing dining with the probable attorney who will argue the case against the Health Care law?

They don’t seem to care about the appearance of impropriety anymore.  When did we fall down the rabbit hole?   Was it after Bush v Gore or was it after Citizens United?

The Los Angeles Times

The day the Supreme Court gathered behind closed doors to consider the politically divisive question of whether it would hear a challenge to President Obama’s healthcare law, two of its justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, were feted at a dinner sponsored by the law firm that will argue the case before the high court.

The occasion was last Thursday, when all nine justices met for a conference to pore over the petitions for review. One of the cases at issue was a suit brought by 26 states challenging the sweeping healthcare overhaul passed by Congress last year, a law that has been a rallying cry for conservative activists nationwide.

The justices agreed to hear the suit; indeed, a landmark 5 1/2-hour argument is expected in March, and the outcome is likely to further roil the 2012 presidential race, which will be in full swing by the time the court’s decision is released.

The lawyer who will stand before the court and argue that the law should be thrown out is likely to be Paul Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration.

Clement’s law firm, Bancroft PLLC, was one of almost two dozen firms that helped sponsor the annual dinner of the Federalist Society, a longstanding group dedicated to advocating conservative legal principles. Another firm that sponsored the dinner, Jones Day, represents one of the trade associations that challenged the law, the National Federation of Independent Business.

Another sponsor was pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc, which has an enormous financial stake in the outcome of the litigation. The dinner was held at a Washington hotel hours after the court’s conference over the case. In attendance was, among others, Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican and an avowed opponent of the healthcare law.

The featured guests at the dinner? Scalia and Thomas.

It’s nothing new: The two justices have been attending Federalist Society events for years. And it’s nothing that runs afoul of ethics rules. In fact, justices are exempt from the Code of Conduct that governs the actions of lower federal justices.

If they were, they arguably fell under code’s Canon 4C, which states, “A judge may attend fund-raising events of law-related and other organizations although the judge may not be a speaker, a guest of honor, or featured on the program of such an event.“

Nevertheless, the sheer proximity of Scalia and Thomas to two of the law firms in the case, as well as to a company with a massive financial interest, was enough to alarm ethics-in-government activists.

“This stunning breach of ethics and indifference to the code belies claims by several justices that the court abides by the same rules that apply to all other federal judges,” said Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause. “The justices were wining and dining at a black-tie fundraiser with attorneys who have pending cases before the court. Their appearance and assistance in fundraising for this event undercuts any claims of impartiality, and is unacceptable.”

Scalia and Thomas have shown little regard for critics who say they too readily mix the business of the court with agenda-driven groups such as the Federalist Society. And Thomas’ wife, Ginni, is a high-profile conservative activist.

Moreover, conservatives argue that it’s Justice Elena Kagan who has an ethical issue, not Scalia and Thomas. Kagan served as solicitor general in the Obama administration when the first legal challenges to the law were brought at the trial court level. Her critics have pushed for Kagan to recuse herself from hearing the case, saying that she was too invested in defending the law then to be impartial now. Kagan has given no indication she will do so.

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Keith Olbermann Interviews Marine Sgt. Shamar Thomas on Current TV

Keith and Shamar Thomas – a Marine Corps veteran who attended the Occupy Times Square protest on Oct. 15 and confronted police officers for using excessive force on protesters – discuss what the Occupy movement means to him and the potential for other veterans to get involved.

Thomas, for whom military service is a family affair, pointed out that riot police were not necessary in Times Square. “I’ve been in battle. There was no battle going on.” Thomas wants to inspire other veterans to support the movement: “This is our time – in our generation – to change the greed that is in America.”

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