It seems impossible for 24 hours to pass without another major revelation expanding the overwhelming scope of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ corruption. In the latest news, The Washington Post reports that conservative activist Leonard Leo funneled “tens of thousands” to Thomas’ wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas. And to make it clear that everyone involved knew this was sketchy as hell, Leonard instructed that the money be billed through a company with “No mention of Ginni, of course.”
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it well: “Each day that passes, the Supreme Court looks less like a bench and more like an auction house. Thomas should resign immediately…”
Leonard is a former vice president of the Federalist Society and connected to a network of “nonprofits” whose task was to get more conservative judges in place. One of those groups, the Judicial Education Project, had an upcoming case before the Supreme Court. Leonard went to Kellyanne Conway, then a Republican pollster, and had her bill the Judicial Education Project $25,000 for “constitution polling and opinion consulting,” which seems not to have been done. The money was then sent to Liberty Consulting, a company owned by Ginni Thomas.
A few months after the Judicial Education Project sent money to Ginni Thomas via Conway, they were in court in a case called Shelby County v. Holder, supporting an effort to strike down a portion of the Voting Rights Act. That portion of the VRA was eliminated in a 5-4 vote, with Thomas providing the deciding vote that put Judicial Education Project on the winning side.
Justice Clarence Thomas failed to disclose a 2014 real estate deal with a GOP megadonor. The deal involved the sale of three properties in Savannah, Georgia, owned by Thomas and his relatives to Harlan Crow, according to ProPublica. The tax and property records showed that Crow purchased through one of his companies for $133,363.
But Thomas “never disclosed his sale of the Savannah properties,” and his failure to report it violates the law.“The transaction marks the first known instance of money flowing from the Republican megadonor to the Supreme Court justice,” ProPublica said in its report.
There is no doubt that the sale of personal real estate to Crow should have been reported on the justice’s financial disclosure form for 2014, and there is no excuse for failing to do so. The law requires government officials to include in their annual reports “a brief description, the date, and category of value of any purchase, sale or exchange during the preceding calendar year which exceeds $1,000,” including “in real property.”
The only exception is “property used solely as a personal residence of the reporting individual or the individual’s spouse.” Given this was reportedly Thomas’s mother’s house, that wouldn’t apply. The most logical explanation for Thomas not to disclose this transaction is that he wanted to keep it from public view.
Thomas’s relationship with Crow and the accuracy of his financial disclosure reports must now be fully scrutinized by the Judicial Conference of the United States, which oversees the federal judiciary and may refer the matter to the Justice Department for additional action. As Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. surely understands, this is a problem for Thomas and the court and its public legitimacy.
The Washington Post recently reported a particularly flagrant case wherein a conservative judicial activist named Leonard Leo covertly paid Thomas’s wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a minimum of $25,000 in 2012. Leo went to great lengths to ensure that the transaction remained concealed, as evidenced by his statement: “No mention of Ginni, of course.”
Thursday’s report comes on the heels of a bombshell investigation published last week by ProPublica that detailed Thomas and his wife’s luxury travel with the Crows, which included trips on the donor’s yacht and private jet. Thomas is subject to criminal prosecution, and letting him resign would be a good deal for the nation and him.
Thursday’s report comes on the heels of a bombshell investigation published last week by ProPublica that detailed Thomas and his wife’s luxury travel with the Crows, which included trips on the donor’s yacht and private jet. The justice also did not disclose that travel, and he later defended the decision not to, saying in a rare statement last week that he was advised at the time that he did not have to report it.
Crow told CNN that he purchased the properties to “one day create a public museum at the Thomas home dedicated to telling the story of our nation’s second black Supreme Court Justice.”
hough two of the properties were later sold by Crow, according to his statement, the real estate magnate still owns the property on which Thomas’ elderly mother lives. Citing county tax records, ProPublica said one of Crow’s companies pays the “roughly $1,500 in annual property taxes on Thomas’ mother’s house,” which had previously been paid by the justice and his wife, Ginni.
Experts told ProPublica that Thomas’ failure to disclose the 2014 deal raises more questions about his relationship with Crow.
“He needed to report his interest in the sale,” Virginia Canter, a former government ethics lawyer who now works for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told the outlet. “Given the role Crow has played in subsidizing the lifestyle of Thomas and his wife, you have to wonder if this was an effort to put cash in their pockets.”
Clarence and Ginni Thomas have disgraced the court and the country. Ginni Thomas could be prosecuted for her actions leading up to January 6. She has sought to overthrow the government that has given her the stature to make malicious mischief. She has agreed to appear before the January 6 committee. She sent messages to more than two dozen lawmakers in Arizona, arguing, without evidence, that there had been widespread election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
She says does not believe in the results of more than 60 court cases, or more than 60 judges looking at the 2020 election lawsuits. It is incredible that she can contend with this. None of the claims were true, and she rejects all of them. That it’s irrational is not a strong enough word for it. I just keep coming back to demented. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
The Washington Post has revealed that she has received $600,000 over the last three years from anonymous donors who funneled the money through something called Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty. In so doing she was able to hide both the money and its sources.
How about trading Thomas’s resignation from the Court in exchange for an agreement not to prosecute his wife?
What’s at stake goes beyond Roe v Wade. Conservatives have been laying the groundwork for decades to reduce the power of federal agencies like OSHA, the Securities Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission.
Since Congress is not equipped to implement the laws it passes, a civil service does this in a regulated democracy. If conservatives are able to overturn the 1984 decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council in which the justices said courts should defer to the expert judgment of regulators when interpreting statutes whenever the wording or meaning of those statutes are ambiguous. Such an outcome would put the regulatory power of agencies subject to being thwarted in the courts.
What kinds of proposals might they consider?
Expanding the court as Franklin Roosevelt attempted to do. While the Constitution does not provide for the number of justices, the number of justices has changed starting with six, then five, then seven, then nine, then ten, then nine. Nine has been the number since 1869.FDR’s actual proposal would have allowed him to appoint a new judge in all federal courts for every judge older than 70. Branded as “court-packing, the measure died. Expanding the Court would not only restore balance but provide an opportunity to build a Court that is representative of the multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural nation that it serves.
- Reducing the power of the federal judiciary is over certain kinds of cases such as gun control and labor regulations. This suffers by eliminating checks and balances on the restricted law.
- Term-limiting justices to 18 or 20-year terms is an undesirable possibility, When the Constitution was adopted, life tenure didn’t anticipate people living much beyond age 65. To do this would require a Constitutional Amendment which takes approval from both the House and the Senate, as well as ratification by at least 38 states.
- Term limits, however, spaced and staggered, will make the court appear more, not less, political in the eyes of the public. Confirmation battles will become more numerous and subject the court to the suspicion that attaches to courts around the world that have term limits or retirement ages. The change would leave the court shorthanded too often if confirmation delays set in. That risks leaving the court with an even number of eight members, hardly an ideal composition for any institution predicated on majority rule.
- Requiring a supermajority of six or seven justices (rather than the current five) to declare a federal statute unconstitutional. This might get the support of both parties.
Each of these concepts needs to be measured against their feasibility of being adopted and their long-term impact.
Clarence Thomas, the hardline conservative supreme court justice, is again facing calls for his recusal in the case over race-based affirmative action in college admissions. Again, this is because of his wife’s political activity.
A one-person conservative powerhouse, she set up her own lobbying company Liberty Consulting in 2010. By her own description, she has “battled for conservative principles in Washington” for over 35 years. The conflict in the current case is because Ginni Thomas sits on the advisory board of the National Association of Scholars. This group has intervened in this affirmative action case and this presents an appearance of a conflict of interest.
It has been established that Ginni Thomas met and advised Trump on who was loyal to him and who was not and who she believed to be part of the “Deep State.”. The New York Times and Axios have previously reported that Thomas would pass hiring and firing recommendations, compiled by her conservative organization Groundswell.
Trump reportedly went into rages upon being told who was disloyal. The meetings often resulted in Trump demanding that the alleged disloyalists be fired “immediately,” according to the Daily Beast.
The case, which is being brought against Harvard and the University of North Carolina, is the latest potential conflict of interest involving Thomas and his wife Virginia Thomas. Ginni, as she is known, is a prominent right-wing activist who speaks out on a raft of issues that frequently come before the nation’s highest court.
In an email on Nov. 9, just days after media organizations called the race in Arizona and nationally for Biden, Thomas sent identical emails to 27 lawmakers in the Arizona House and Senate urging them to “stand strong in the face of political and media pressure” as reported by the Washington Post. She corresponded with John Eastman and Mark Meadows.
John Eastman, the former clerk to Clarence Thomas, allegedly spent weeks pressuring Pence’s top aides, to get the vice president to agree to do one of two things:
- Reject electoral votes in swing states Joe Biden won and just simply call the election for his boss, Trump.
- Reject electoral votes in swing states Biden won, send them back to the state legislatures to decide, and pressure Republicans in those states to say Trump won, rather than Biden. Eastman was advised by Eric Herschmann, another Trump attorney to get himself a criminal defense attorney.
The potential appearance of a conflict of interest over the Harvard case was noted in a recent investigation by the New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer that takes a deep dive into the overlapping interests of the couple. The article chronicles in devastating detail the many instances where Ginni’s political activism appears to present problems for the image and integrity of the court.
“Ginni Thomas has held so many leadership or advisory positions at conservative pressure groups that it’s hard to keep track of them,” Mayer concluded. “Many, if not all, of these groups have been involved in cases that have come before her husband.”
An even more troubling recent occurrence came about when Ginni Thomas lent her voice to Trump’s big lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. Virginia Thomas sent at least 29 messages to the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows pressing him to use his influences to overturn the 2020 election. She described the loss to President Biden as an “obvious fraud” and “the greatest heist of our history.”Paradoxically, Mark Meadows is under investigation for potential voter fraud.
On the morning of January 6 itself, Mark Joseph Stern of Slate reported, Thomas, posted on her Facebook page words of encouragement for the “Stop the Steal” marchers in Washington. “Watch MAGA crowd today best with Right Side Broadcasting .. and then C-Span for what the Congress does starting at 1:00 pm today. LOVE MAGA people!!!!!” “GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP or PRAYING!”
Shortly thereafter the post was removed after the deaths of five people and more than 100 police officers injured.
Soon after the insurrection, Thomas was forced to apologize to her husband’s former supreme court law clerks for comments she made privately to them that appeared to lament Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election. The remarks were sent to a private email list called “Thomas Clerk World”.
Ginni Thomas attended an extremist “Stop the Steal” Rally meeting in Orlando, Florida on March 6, 2021, her attendance at the Orlando gathering indicates that her alliance with election deniers continued even after Joe Biden was inaugurated. Frontliners has hosted hard-right lawmakers, insisted on strict secrecy, and proclaimed that the nation’s top enemy is the “radical fascist left,” according to social media posts, court filings, and interviews with several people involved in the group.
One photograph from the Orlando event shows pastor and conservative radio personality C.L. Bryant Bryant posing with Thomas. Others show Thomas wearing a name tag decorated with a yellow ribbon she and others wore saying “Trouble Maker.”
Thomas’s influence has grown in the new six-justice conservative supermajority. He’s being called the unofficial chief justice of the court.
Is Mrs. Thomas no less responsible for helping to trigger the incitement? We may find out as she is being subpoenaed as a witness before the January 6 committee.
The Thomas’s have been skirting ethical boundaries for years. Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas earned $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, according to a Common Cause review of the foundation’s IRS records. Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court on financial disclosure forms for at least five years, checking a box labeled “none” where “spousal noninvestment income” would be disclosed.
Prior to the election and just after the Vindman termination, the Washington Post reported that Ginni Thomas was working with and on behalf of the White House on the great “purge” while Trump was president.
Clarence Thomas was the only justice to say Trump could keep his records from Congress. He has acted as a minority of one in cases in which his wife is deeply involved. This is unethical on the face of it and any judge in the federal system would be disciplined for a breach of ethics like this. However, Supreme Court Justices decide for themselves whether they have a conflict of interest.
Virginia Thomas originated Liberty Central, whose purpose is to restore the “founding principles” of limited government and individual liberty.
The pressure should build to force Thomas’s resignation. At age 72, he has been on the court as the longest-serving justice. After Court 30 years ago, Justice Clarence Thomas assured his law clerks, “I ain’t evolving.” We live in a time of unprecedented change and Justice Thomas sits like a stone in the middle of the road.
With the unfolding cases unfolding in the criminal court against Trump and his operatives and with the prosecution of Trump officials increasingly certain, now is an opportune time to call for the resignations of Thomas and Kavanaugh from the Court. This is an opportune time to release the FBI records on Kavanaugh that were suppressed by the Trump administration.
We already see Trump’s handpicked trio of justices being accused of blatant disregard for the separation of church and state. Their ascension to the Supreme Court was enabled by a web of right-wing dark money.
Republican operatives have developed a robust network of conservative and Catholic-affiliated nonprofits, charities, and funds large out of public view For more than a decade, this network has been leveraged to propel conservative judicial nominees. While most Americans wouldn’t recognize these operators, they have been the overseers of massive amounts of money that have gone into federal judicial races. They don’t have social media accounts and don’t give public speeches. They do all they can to operate in the shadows, out of public view.
Biden appointed a commission to study possible court reform. Possible recommendations may include adding four new justices to the Supreme Court, term limits for justices, and finding a bipartisan selection process, among others. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) called on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign after news that his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, made numerous emails to with conservative lawyer John Eastman, who was central in former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Thomas by participating in a decision involving his wife’s misconduct is complicit.
Now it’s time to improve the Supreme Court. It’s time for Clarence Thomas to be pressured into resigning or move to impeach him. Any other judge in the federal judiciary would be impeached for such conduct.
McConnell when asked if a Republican Senate would confirm a Biden nominee in 2024. “It’s highly unlikely.” So McConnell is planning on pulling the same stunt if a vacancy arose in 2023, with, say, 18 months left in Biden’s term. When asked whether a Biden nominee — a “normal mainstream liberal”— “get a fair shot at a hearing. Well, we’d have to wait and see what happens.” Bipartisan votes on Supreme Court nominees are ancient history. That Senate is no more. It doesn’t work with McConnell.
Ending the filibuster and court reform is the only answer and it may take one or two more Congresses to get this done. In the meantime, the Court loses credibility. Justice is the loser.
The Supreme Court dealt more blows to the Voting Rights Act on Thursday, ruling in favor of Republicans that Arizona can maintain restrictions that critics say discriminate against nonwhite voters. Justice Kagan in her dissent said, “State after State has taken up or enacted legislation erecting new barriers to voting” in recent months, saying the U.S. is “at a perilous moment for the Nation’s commitment to equal citizenship.”
“The law that confronted one of this country’s most enduring wrongs; pledged to give every American, of every race, an equal chance to participate in our democracy; and now stands as the crucial tool to achieve that goal,” she wrote. “That law, of all laws, deserves the sweep and power Congress gave it. That law, of all laws, should not be diminished by this Court.”
President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass both the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect voting rights. “The Court’s decision, harmful as it is, does not limit Congress’ ability to repair the damage done today: it puts the burden back on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act to its intended strength.”
The Senate failed to pass the Voting Rights Act because two Democratic Senators did not vote to create an opening in the filibuster rule. These same two Senators have created openings in the filibuster rule on less critical matters. Now the best way forward is to elect additional Democratic senators in 2022 to make it possible to achieve needed voting rights legislation.
The Supreme Court has ruled several times over the past 50 years that a woman has a right to an abortion before the fetus can live on its own, around 22 to 24 weeks. The overwhelmingly conservative Supreme Court has upheld, on procedural grounds, a Texas law banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected — so, basically, all abortions, since that’s before most people know they’re pregnant. This Supreme Court seems certain to overturn Roe v. Wade.
In another fulfillment of a right-wing plot to control America, the Supreme Court ruled for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in his legal challenge to federal placing limits on the amount of money candidates can raise from donors to pay off their personal debt after an election. This makes running for office into a business – run for office and collect enough campaign funds to pay off debts or fund a pet project. In this way, a candidate can profit without winning.
The 6-3 ruling struck down a $250,000 cap on the amount of post-election funds a candidate can be repaid for personal loans they made to their campaign, finding that the restriction violated the First Amendment.
Biden is improving the composition of the lower courts, but with a “deeply broken” system there are no quick fixes because judges who were already woefully understaffed and often undertrained are now overwhelmed with a growing backlog of over 1.6 million cases.
Dozens of federal actions dealing with everything from energy efficiency standards to funding for transit projects have been upended by a recent Supreme court ruling against the Biden administration’s climate change calculations.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t use their marathon question-and-answer session with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to challenge her about two high-profile decisions she issued that went against former President Trump.
Instead, they focussed on other issues, a shift that marks the latest sign that Senate Republicans see Trump as more of a liability than an asset heading into the 2022 election. Let’s hope we’ll see the last of Trump by 2024 if the Justice Department procedures Trump and his allies.
“The Supreme Court is out of step with the American people. The decisions we are seeing are not popular. The majority of Americans want Roe upheld, but the court might well go the other way. A majority of Americans would like to see some regulation of guns; the court may not do that,” according to Shira A. Scheindlin, a former federal judge in New York who is co-chair of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
The Pew Research Center found this year that only 54% of respondents had a favorable view of the court, down from 69% in mid-2019, according to several opinion polls. the Gallup Organization reported last year that Americans disapproved of the court’s performance by 53% to 40%.
Chief Justice John Roberts is no longer able to manage the ultra-conservatives on the Court. In good conscious, it is time for him to resign.
The Washington Post has said: “Public faith in the Supreme Court is down to a historic low of 25 percent, and there’s a good reason why it keeps eroding. We are experiencing what the Founders feared: a crisis of governmental legitimacy brought about by minoritarian tyranny. And it could soon get a whole lot worse. In his concurring opinion in the abortion case, Justice Clarence Thomas called on the court to overturn popular precedents upholding a right to contraception, same-sex relationships and marriage equality. So much for Hamilton’s hope that “the sense of the majority should prevail.”
|A petition calling for Clarence Thomas’s removal from Supreme Court has gotten over one million signatures.|
Thomas is feeling the heat. He has canceled plans to teach a seminar this fall at George Washington University’s law school, a few weeks after the private university in the nation’s capital had defended the conservative jurist’s position on its faculty.
Thomas, on the high court for more than 30 years, has taught at the D.C. law school since 2011. His adjunct faculty position there drew controversy this summer after the court’s conservative majority overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that had established a constitutional right to abortion.
With the support of three justices chosen by President Donald Trump in the past five years, the Supreme Court now has a 6-to-3 conservative majority. Those justices sent the court on a dramatic turn to the right in the term completed this summer, overturning the guarantee of a constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade, striking a gun control law in New York, limiting the power of the Biden administration to confront climate change, and scoring victories for religious conservatives.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted luxury trips around the globe for more than two decades, including travel on a superyacht and private jet, from a prominent Republican donor without disclosing them, according to a new report. A nine-day trip that Thomas and his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, took to Indonesia in 2019, shortly after the court released its final opinions of the term. That trip, which included flights on Crow’s jet and island-hopping on a superyacht, would have cost the couple more than $500,000 if they had paid for it themselves.
Federal law mandates that top officials from the three branches of government, including the Supreme Court, file annual forms detailing their finances, outside income, and spouses’ sources of income, with each branch determining its own reporting standards.
Judges are prohibited from accepting gifts from anyone with business before the court. Until recently, however, the judicial branch had not clearly defined an exemption for gifts considered “personal hospitality.”
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday said he “was advised” that he did not have to disclose a series of trips reportedly paid for by a Republican mega-donor. Would not he otherwise write “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”
Revised rules adopted by a committee of the Judicial Conference, the courts’ policymaking body, seek to provide a fuller accounting. The rules took effect on March 14.
The Supreme Court conservatives have ignited a new era without hesitation.
The court’s approval rating has dropped to one of its lowest levels ever in public opinion polls, led by unhappy Democrats and to a lesser extent people who heretofore identified as independents.
But Roberts said it is the Supreme Court’s job to decide what the law is. “That role doesn’t change simply because people disagree with this opinion or that opinion or with a particular mode of jurisprudence.” In all due respect, Mr. Justice Roberts, it’s the Court’s drastic rulings that have riled the public.
Irving Kaufman said it well, “The Supreme Court’s only armor is the cloak of public trust; its sole ammunition, the collective hopes of our society.”
Justice Thomas lacks any sense of propriety. Justice Clarence Thomas, acting unilaterally on Monday, granted Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) request to temporarily shield the South Carolina Republican from testifying in a probe of alleged pro-Trump election interference in Georgia.
Newly revealed is that Trump’s lawyers described in emails ” Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as “key” to Trump’s plan to delay Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s victory through litigation after the 2020 election.
“We want to frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue” a temporary order putting Georgia’s results in doubt, Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote in a December 31, 2020, email, adding that a favorable order from Thomas was their “only chance” to hold up Congress from counting electoral votes for Biden from Georgia.
Eastman was formerly a law clerk to Thomas and was in contact with Ginni Thomas.
Following are the ways court reform of the federal judiciary needs to go:
- term limits
- independent and enforced ethics requirements
- expanding number of Supremes
- realignment of appeals districts
- randomized assignment of cases to districts (to eliminate cherry-picking of judges)
- elimination of legislation by the judiciary with ‘designer cases’ (e.g. independent legislation theory)