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Odor in the Court: Why Clarence Thomas Should Resign
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is all about precedent. Not just when it comes to rulings that the court makes, but also constitutional interpretations, and even appropriate ethical behavior of its justices. It surprised me to learn that while state, federal, and appellate judges have codes of ethical behavior that they must adhere to the Supreme Court Justices do not.In what amounts to an amazing irony considering the nature of the institution they serve on, Supreme Court Justices may decide upon and abide by the rules that they see fit for themselves. This amount of limitless unchecked power is so utterly senseless that it would be like allowing campaigns for the other two branches of government to be funded by unlimited amounts of money from organizations that don’t have to identify themselves.Oh, wait…(see Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission). We’ll come back to Citizens United another day.But for today, back to precedent.
Since there is no ethical “code of conduct” in place, the justices rely on past precedent not only of their predecessor’s rulings but also on their behavior in order to conduct their personal and professional lives in a manner befitting a member of the nation’s highest court. Why is this important?Abe Fortas. Abe Fortas set a precedent. He is a former Supreme Court Justice who stepped down after a series of scandals ensued showing that he received gifts from individuals and retainers who had cases before the court.
What’s that smell?
That smell is corruption. And it is emanating from none other than Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. For the sake of this blog, let’s just forget about that whole Anita Hill“incident”. What Justice Thomas has done since sitting on the bench of the nation’s highest court and last bastion of constitutional freedom is far more disturbing. Mr. Thomas conveniently forgot to mention during his nomination process that Citizens United spent over $100,000 slandering any Senators who were opposed to his nomination. Yes, the same Citizens United for which Mr. Thomas provided the deciding vote in the controversial case mentioned above. He also “forgot” to submit complete and accurate financial statements multiple times over the past 20 years. He did not reveal that he received a $15,000 gift from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He was, you guessed it, the deciding vote three times on controversial 5 - 4 cases involving AEI as highlighted inthis report by the Center for American Progress. Clarence and his lovely wife Virginia forgot to disclose the $696,589 that she earned lobbying for the Heritage Foundation. In essence, Mr. Thomas is benefitting financially by ruling a specific way on heavily disputed court cases. It also slipped their minds that Mrs. Thomas has worked more recently as a paid lobbyist trying to repeal the dreaded “Obamacare”. So he is further benefitting financially via his wife and the money she receives in attempting to overturn the healthcare law that will undoubtedly appear for the court on which Thomas sits.
Not only does Mr. Thomas not follow the ethical precedents set forth by his predecessors, he often ignores the most basic constitutional precedents by prior and current judges. For example, in Clarence Thomas’s America it would not be illegal to have “Whites Only” counters in restaurants, and federal laws against labor abuses would not exist. He is in other words the most “unprecedented” judge of the modern era.
Odor in the Court!
Were I justice Thomas, I would (as my grandmother used to say) be more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs. The voices calling for his resignation are growing louder. It is high time that the left begins to realize how important the nominations to the Supreme Court are. The right has been masterful at this for decades. Often, the Supreme Court is the battlefield on the most controversial issues. Justice Thomas smells and there will be no order in the SCOTUS until the odor is removed. We must demand his resignation. At the very least, Mr. Thomas must recuse himself from any cases related to gifts he has received and the lobbying funds that his wife has been paid.