Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, under attack in recent weeks for promoting -- GASP! -- liberty (and also criticized for -- EGADS! -- giving more stock to listening from the bench than speaking), spoke his mind over the weekend.As always it's not exactly the case (GASP!) The stuff the braintrust leaves out (EGADS!) tells enough of a different story that the spin is readily apparent. From The Hill:
Good for him.
The supposed "rap" against Mr. Justice Thomas is that he and his wife, Ginni, somehow are engaged in nefarious "conflicts" through their promotion of our fundamental liberties before conservatives and benefactors who help spread the same message.
It's nothing more than the kind of McCarthyite tactics that the left -- and too many in the media -- usually accuse the right of engaging in.
And during a Saturday night speech before The Federalist Society's annual symposium for conservative law students in Charlottesville, Va., Thomas spoke in no uncertain terms of what is at stake -- America itself.
Recent reports about Supreme Court justices participating in partisan events have raised concerns that this behavior may undermine public perception of the Court’s impartiality and the legitimacy of its decisions. In fact, the situation is so acute that 107 judicial ethicists from 76 law schools around the country signed a letter to Congress calling for reform of the Court’s ethics rules.So it's not just about "promoting liberty" is it? It's about the maintaining at least the semblance of impartiality of the supposedly impartial court. And about Virginia Thomas, Justice Thomas' wife - did you know there's a Scaife connection to all this?
Perhaps the most notorious example of justices willfully entering into politicized activity was the reported attendance by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas at an electoral strategy conference for big donors and politicians hosted by the billionaire Koch Brothers. This wasn’t just an opportunity to speak or socialize at a gathering on conservative philosophies. A central purpose of the conference was the solicitation of millions of dollars from wealthy donors in order to influence elections and advance a political agenda.
Even worse, not only did the justices allow their names to be used to add prestige to a transparently political event, they almost certainly hobnobbed with individuals and corporations with interests (if not actual cases) before the Court in a setting created specifically to magnify the influence of those attending. Although no one suggests justices cannot or should not attend meetings sponsored by ideologically friendly groups, the overtly political nature of the Koch gathering crossed the ethical line. The same would be true if a liberal justice was featured at a meeting of donors planning President Obama’s reelection campaign.
Surprise, surprise. From the LATimes:
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to report his wife's income from a conservative think tank on financial disclosure forms for at least five years, the watchdog group Common Cause said Friday.Common Cause notes that:
Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, 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 financial disclosure forms for those years, instead checking a box labeled "none" where "spousal noninvestment income" would be disclosed.
A Supreme Court spokesperson could not be reached for comment late Friday. But Virginia Thomas' employment by the Heritage Foundation was well known at the time.
Virginia Thomas also has been active in the group Liberty Central, an organization she founded to restore the "founding principles" of limited government and individual liberty.
In his 2009 disclosure, Justice Thomas also reported spousal income as "none." Common Cause contends that Liberty Central paid Virginia Thomas an unknown salary that year.
Federal judges are bound by law to disclose the source of spousal income, according to Stephen Gillers, a professor at NYU School of Law. Thomas' omission — which could be interpreted as a violation of that law — could lead to some form of penalty, Gillers said.
"It wasn't a miscalculation; he simply omitted his wife's source of income for six years, which is a rather dramatic omission," Gillers said. "It could not have been an oversight."
We reported the situation to the U.S. Judicial Conference, the agency that collects judicial disclosure forms, and within hours Justice Thomas filed amended forms noting his wife’s employment. His omissions, stretching over 20 years, were inadvertent, the justice explained.So now we're talking Thomas' failure to disclose his wife's income (something he's required by federal law to do). It's no longer about her "promoting fundamental liberties" is it? It's about money. Lots of it.
The Ethics Act carries both civil and criminal penalties for anyone who “knowingly and willfully falsifies” or fails to file a disclosure report. The maximum penalty is a $50,000 fine and one year in prison.
Coming from The Heritage Foundation.
Do I need to tell you that Richard Mellon Scaife, the owner and publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, gives (EGADS!) gobs and gobs of money to the Heritage Foundation? And that he's on its (GASP!) Board of Trustees?
NOW what does the editorial look like?