It’s true that Supreme Court Justices are not legally required to follow the ethics rules as is the case with all other Federal Judges. Never-the-less, they do. Why? Simply said, it’s the right thing to do. Anything less, risks the reputation of the Court as unbiased. After all, it’s THE SUPREME COURT! There is no where else to go for legal recourse.
I should clarify saying “they do” follow the ethics principals. They do, all except for two…
The first one was Justice Abe Fortas. Justice Fortas resigned in disgrace in 1969 in a gifting scandal and accepting an annual fee for consultation. He also received a fee to speak at a University but the funds actually came from a group of business interests.
The other one is current Justice, Clarence Thomas. Among other things, he has been given a bible valued at $15,000 – $19,000 by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative business think tank. A very rich Dallas Real Estate mogul named Harlan Crow is a major contributor to AEI. Additionally, Harlan Crow was involved in the purchase of a building in the Georgia town where Justice Thomas grew up. The building will be used to house a museum, coincidentally it’s the cannery where Clarence’s mom had worked. It should be noted that according to the previous owner, Justice Thomas told him that he had a friend that he would put him in touch with. Enter Harlan Crow…
It has also been reported that Mr. Crow gave $500,000 to Justice Thomas’ wife to start her Tea Party Group. The worst of this situation is that the AEI has filed multiple briefs to the Supreme Court and Justice Thomas did not recuse himself in those issues before the court. So, have these gifts influenced rulings from Justice Thomas? Who can say what’s in a man’s heart. Perhaps he voted his true opinion in the labor case that was put before the court involving Mr. Crow. However, being the lone dissenter in the 8 to 1 decision does not instill confidence.
To add insult to injury, in 2000 Virginia Thomas worked for the ultra-conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation. Her position was director of executive branch relations. It was her job to organize the resumes of individuals that should be considered for positions in a Bush administration.
As the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case that would ultimately decide who would be the president, Virginia Thomas sought prospective appointees through email. Again, Justice Thomas had a serious conflict of interest and should have recused himself.
At the very least, Justice Thomas has shown monumentally poor judgment. At worst, he has completely undermined the reputation of the Supreme Court by selling his vote and voting in what was clearly a compromised position that would benefit him or his spouse. One has to wonder on what other issues he ruled in his own financial self interest. Whatever the truth is, he needs to go and the sooner the better.
For another view of calls for Justice Thomas’ to step down can be found at AlterNet and TruthOut as well as another article at TruthOut. In addition, a formal bar complaint has been filed with the State of Missouri Supreme Court by the group Protect Our Elections.