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Ear to the Ground

The Dubious Friendship of Clarence Thomas and Harlan Crow

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Posted on Jun 19, 2011
Wikimedia Commons

Justice Clarence Thomas, via a Supreme Court spokeswoman, declined to respond to a series of questions The New York Times submitted regarding his association with Harlan Crow, a benefactor of conservative causes.

After U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas secured a financial favor that led to the preservation of an aging cannery site in the community of his birth in Georgia, legal ethicists are voicing concerns over his friendship with Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate magnate and contributor to conservative causes.

Crow’s donation to what appears to be Justice Thomas’ pet project is cause for wonder over how the judge’s rulings might be influenced by his benefactor’s politics. Federal judges are required to adhere to a code of ethics that bars them from raising money for charitable causes for precisely that reason. But Supreme Court justices are not. Crow, who has donated almost $5 million to Republican campaigns and conservative groups, is a known contributor to Thomas’ political advocacy group, Liberty Central, which opposed President Obama’s health care legislation last year. —ARK

The New York Times:

In several instances, news reports of Mr. Crow’s largess provoked controversy and questions, adding fuel to a rising debate about Supreme Court ethics. But Mr. Crow’s financing of the museum, his largest such act of generosity, previously unreported, raises the sharpest questions yet — both about Justice Thomas’s extrajudicial activities and about the extent to which the justices should remain exempt from the code of conduct for federal judges.

Although the Supreme Court is not bound by the code, justices have said they adhere to it. Legal ethicists differed on whether Justice Thomas’s dealings with Mr. Crow pose a problem under the code. But they agreed that one facet of the relationship was both unusual and important in weighing any ethical implications: Justice Thomas’s role in Mr. Crow’s donation for the museum.

The code says judges “should not personally participate” in raising money for charitable endeavors, out of concern that donors might feel pressured to give or entitled to favorable treatment from the judge. In addition, judges are not even supposed to know who donates to projects honoring them.

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By Don Quixote, June 22, 2011 at 10:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I feel like The Don tilting at republicans. Nothing seems to work. They just seem to get corrupter and corrupter. Corporations have the same rights as citizens, Thomas has been bought and paid for by Harland Crow. Will it ever end?

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By berniem, June 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

Isn’t it time we rid ourselves of this insult to the ideals of Affirmative Action?

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By Jimnp72, June 20, 2011 at 2:48 pm Link to this comment

amen to that

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By Jimnp72, June 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

also less intelligence than a roach

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By Ron Harvey, June 20, 2011 at 11:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Frighteningly disappointing, isn’t it?

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 20, 2011 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

They hound Anthony Weiner out of office for what he did, which was being stupid, and then we have Clarence Thomas who displays less integrity than a cockroach ...which is okay? Now if Thomas was a liberal black do you think Acorn actions comes to mind, and the Republicans would be screaming bloody murder, hypocrisy has its permanent place in politics.

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By Lew Ciefer, June 20, 2011 at 11:15 am Link to this comment

Old Clarence should register as a democrat. By carrying the conservative label he makes it too easy for all those closeted racists that make up the democrat party to openly attack a BLACK man. Usually they have to find another black man of a member of some other preferred minoirty group to criticize another member of a preferred minoirty.

i.e. Farrakhan calling Obama a murderer in the White House.

Relax! Don’t get your underwear all knotted up. It’s still evil white people’s fault. They turned that lovely negro—according to Farrakhan—by allowing him to sleep in Buckingham Palace.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, June 20, 2011 at 2:47 am Link to this comment

A prime example that affirmative action doesn’t work.

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By Inherit The Wind, June 19, 2011 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment

With a Democratic President, a Democratic House that would STAY Democratic until 1994, a Democratic Senate that would STAY Democratic until 1980, a minority of Republicans was able to hound Abe Fortis off the USSC for actions that weren’t 1/100 as corrupt as those of Clarence Thomas.

Yet with a Democratic President, a Democratic Senate, and, until recently a Democratic House, somehow this crooked, corrupt, clearly biased incompetent can’t be pressured of the Court where he doesn’t deserve to be.

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Daye's avatar

By Daye, June 19, 2011 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

Clarence Thomas is but one of the 5 members of
the Supreme Court who are to it what they are to
the nation itself - cockroaches in our cupboards.

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By expat, June 19, 2011 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

uncle thomas, oreobama, powell, and the rest…  all upstairs n… doing nothing but the white and zionist neocon’s bidding…

and betraying their Oath to the Constitution,

and America’s interests,

Traitors !

But their (and others’) day will soon come.

Smell it…

Revolution is in the air, patriot act and tsa and increased fbi powers and extra judicial murders and kidnapings notwithstanding.

Tremble vermin.  tremble pigs of all stripes, Your time, it’s-a-comin’...

It’s not yet Christmas but there’ll soon be some tree decorating.

“those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable” —JFK

“The tree of Liberty must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of tyrants and patriots”—Jefferson

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By Rodney, June 19, 2011 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Clarence Thomas was brought and payed for the second he
was confirmed. We know how he will vote even before the
trial begins. He just looks over to his left and asks
how we’s gonna vote this time massar Scalia?

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By Steve E, June 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

We don’t need no stinkin badges.

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mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, June 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

Our republic no longer works due, in large part, because narcissists,sociopaths and incompetents such as Thomas are “running the show.”

With guys like Thomas in charge of our constitutional rights, who needs a republic?

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