Thursday, February 24, 2011

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should resign


Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should resign. He got off to a rocky start, of course, but this last year has been one full of outrageous blunders, missteps, and violations of ethics.
I have to say, I’ve always thought he was a dick (as big around as a coke can). Until a couple years ago, that is, when 60 Minutes interviewed him. There, he talked about his Gullah roots and his grandparents… and he seemed ok. He was neither as stupid nor as inarticulate as most of his detractors thought (It has been five years since he has asked a question from the bench).
Well, now we see that, though he may not be stupid, he is crooked and immoral. Many of the problems come from his wife.  Of course, she insanely called Anita Hill and left a message asking for her to apologize. It’s worth thinking about the moments preceding that call. What psychological situation could have compelled her to find the number, pick up the phone, and make that telephone call? Then, when Dr. Hill didn’t answer… for Christ’s sake, how drunk do you have to be to leave a recorded message?
But that’s just the beginning of the problem with Mrs. Thomas. At the time she called Dr. Hill, Mrs. Thomas was the CEO of Liberty Central, a Tea-Party group. The group, which paid her a hefty salary, had a vested interest in many of the cases that her husband might rule on. In November, she stepped down as CEO so the group might pursue its radical agenda “without any of the distractions.”
Late last month, a watchdog group reported that the Thomases failed to report her $685,000 income from the conservative Heritage Foundation  over the last five years. On his financial disclosure form, Thomas checked that the income of his wife was “none.”
Most of us don’t live the kinds of lives where we can forget over a hundred thousand dollars a year.
Now it turns out that it is not just Mrs. Thomas with questionable associations. Justice Thomas himself was paid by the conservative Federalist Society for attending a retreat in 2008.  At first the Justice said he just dropped in, but his financial disclosure reports show that the Federalist Society—funded by the  radical activist Koch brothers—paid for an entire weekend getaway.
Now an advocacy group Common Cause is claiming that because of Thomas’ relationship with the Koch brothers, Justice Thomas should have recused himself from ruling on the landmark Citizen’s United case, which ruled that corporate money was equated with free speech and allowed corporations to spend money directly on political campaigns without disclosing the source of the money. “The Koch brothers have been among the main beneficiaries,” of the ruling, the New York times reported last week.
Thomas, of course, voted in favor of Citizens United.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in activist judges. I think people are wrong when they think that the judiciary should follow public opinion. The purpose of the judiciary branch of government is to have free individuals to make unpopular decisions, decisions that defend the minority of one against the tyranny of the majority.
But this is not what Thomas did. Instead, he and his wife have both taken money from groups that would love to influence the outcome of Supreme Court cases. There is no place for such shenanigans in our judiciary.
In the midst of all of this impropriety, Justice Thomas would do best to step down from the Court. It is the right thing to do for the good of the country.

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