Sunday, February 13, 2011

Clarence Thomas in the News--again...

The NYTimes’s Supreme Court Correspondent, Adam Liptak, gave us an interesting heads-up in last Saturday paper. [Here]  When the Supreme Court returns from its winter recess right after President’s Day, it will hear arguments in two criminal cases, but we shall probably not hear a peep from Clarence Thomas, if he continues his stubborn, five-year non-participatory silence in such circumstances.  His continued silence is so unusual that it merited Liptak’s story on the front page of the Times.
Liptak, always a keen Court observer, wrote: [Here]
If he is true to form, Justice Thomas will spend the arguments as he always does: leaning back in his chair, staring at the ceiling, rubbing his eyes, whispering to Justice Stephen G. Breyer, consulting papers and looking a little irritated and a little bored. He will ask no questions.
Thomas has given various reasons for his odd silence.  He has written about his embarrassment about the way he speaks.  When growing up, he was teased about his rural Georgia accent and thus never asked questions in college or law school.  He also has said that he is quiet in oral argument because it is more courteous to listen than to speak.  However, critics have pointed out that since his opinions can be contrary and “idiosyncratic,” attorneys should have a chance to engage him in discussion before being hit by a sweeping opinion from left field.
All of this simply adds to the general opinion that Thomas’s nomination and subsequent Senate confirmation were serious mistakes.
Complicating this already muddied picture of Thomas, is the ongoing complication of his wife Ginni’s very visible and very conservative lobbying career.  She ran a Tea Party organization and is currently the head of her own lobbying firm for which she has boasted to freshman GOP Congressmen and women of her insider “contacts.”  We must add to this starkly partisan picture, her highly publicized and ill-advised phone call to Anita Hill.  On top of all that, we now have the revelation that Clarence did not report his wife’s income of $686,589 on his Supreme Court’s financial disclosure forms from 2003 to 2007.  He wrote “none” and has since been allowed the highly unusual courtesy to “amend” the forms. [Here]  
Surely Thomas must have been aware that his wife was leaving for work every day.  (She was working then for the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank.)  Is $686,589 chump change for the Thomases, so that Clarence didn't notice?
There are many, many things wrong with Thomas’s career on the court, aren’t there?  We have not even discussed his attendance, with fellow conservative Justice Scalia, at a Koch brothers lavish Conservative strategy session at Aspen.  That alone should have raised a major hue and cry.  Both justices should have recused themselves from Citizens United v. FEC.  They knew that the case was in the court’s pipeline.  Barring that, Chief Justice Roberts should have raised the issue with them.  There is no evidence that that conversation ever took place.
Shouldn’t members of the Supreme Court be above reproach--like Caesar’s wife?
But maybe that doesn't apply to men?...

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