Justice Clarence Thomas, Conflicts of Interest
Clarence Thomas was nominated by George HW Bush for the Supreme Court. Bush’s chief of staff, John Sunnu, had promised that Bush would nominate a “true conservative”. During the confirmation hearings in the Senate, a prior co-worker named Anita Hill reluctantly came forward and testified that he had sexually harassed her at her workplace. The right wing attacked her visciously as a liar. Even though a friend of his testified that he loved to watch pornographic movies and describe them to his friends and coworkers, her testimony was discounted. Outside interest groups spent millions of dollars putting pressure on Senators who opposed Thomas’ nomination and he was subsequently confirmed.
Thomas is considered to be one of the most conservative members of the current court. He has strong libertarian leanings and he was influenced by the philosophy of Ayn Rand who preached a very selfish and self centered approach to life. He claims to use the original intent of the Constitution as the basis for his decisions. He favors local and state governments over the Federal Government but supports a strong Federal Executive Branch. He is opposed to gay rights, favors participation by religious groups in politics, refuses to condemn police brutality, favors police over defendants in Fourth Amendment cases
During the fight about who won the presidency in 2000 which was ultimately decided by the Supreme court with no constitutional justification, the wife of Clarence Thomas, Ginny Thomas was working at the Heritage foundation sorting resumes to help set up the Bush transition team. When Thomas voted to make George W. Bush president, there was a possible conflict of interest and he should have recused himself.
Recently, Ginney Thomas started a right wing political action group and explicitly stated on the website that President Obama’s healthcare bill was unconstitutional. Since her husband sits on the court that will ultimately decide whether or not the bill is constitutional, it would be a conflict of interest for Thomas not to recuse himself and he has shown no interest in doing so.
Thomas attended a private fund-raising event sponsored by the Koch brothers and other right wing donors in 2008. His name has been used by the groups in their advertising for subsequent events. Although he claimed to have only “dropped in briefly”, his financial disclosure forms showed that he was compensated for 4 days of attendance at the event.
The judicial code of ethics states that justices should not attend political fund raisers. When challenged about his actions, Thomas has not shown any concern.
For the past 7 years, Thomas has marked in a box on his financial disclosure form that his wife had no non-investment income during those years. In reality, she received over $680,000 from The Heritage Foundation and other income from other groups and agencies. When confronted, Thomas said that he was unclear about the proper way to fill out the form! A Supreme Court justice who cannot check a clearly labeled box that he HAD checked in other years calls his mental competence and/or his honesty into question.
When the Citizens United decision was handed down by the Supreme Court, Thomas voted in favor of the decision that corporations could donate unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns as part of their right to free speech. Because Citizens United contributed millions to the pressure campaign against critical Senators during Thomas’ nomination debate, he should have recused himself but he did not.
Justice Clarence Thomas seems to have serious ethical problems as well as a lack of concern about obvious conflicts of interest. He should be impeached and removed from the bench.