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Impeach Clarence Thomas?

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Posted on May 12, 2014

By Bill Blum

(Page 2)

Still, in recent years, several low-budget grass-roots petition drives calling for Thomas’ removal have been undertaken, including one circulated by Change.org that garnered nearly 38,000 signatures before closing in 2012. A new petition seeking to dump both Thomas and Scalia is being circulated by MoveOn.org.

Taken together, the petitions have charged Thomas with three impeachable offenses:

1. Disclosure Violations: For 13 years, Thomas failed to report his wife Ginni’s income on the mandatory annual financial disclosure forms that he signed under penalty of perjury, indicating that his spouse had no non-investment income when in fact she was steadily employed in high-level jobs as a policy analyst and conservative activist. According to Common Cause, Ginni—who is also a lawyer and a one-time aide to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas—received over $686,000 between 2003 and 2007 working for the Heritage Foundation. In 2011, claiming incredulously that he had misunderstood his reporting responsibilities, Thomas amended his financial disclosures, which can now be examined on the OpenSecrets.org website.

2. Conflicts of Interest: Thomas failed to recuse himself, as a result of Ginni’s political advocacy, on the Citizens United and Obamacare cases when they were argued before the Supreme Court. In 2009, Ginni co-founded Liberty Central, a tea party organization dedicated to repealing Obamacare. Seed money for Liberty was raised in part by means of a $500,000 donation from Texas real estate magnate Harlan Crow, a close friend and patron of the Thomas family and a supporter of conservative causes who stood to benefit from a favorable outcome of the Citizens United litigation. In 2013, Mother Jones’ David Corn reported that Ginni had joined Groundswell, a right-wing discussion group promoting a “30 front” public relations war against progressive causes. 

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3. Political Bias: Thomas gave a talk, the nature of which has never been disclosed, at a secret 2008 political retreat in Palm Springs, Calif., sponsored by the Koch brothers. Thomas later explained that his expenses for what turned out to be a four-day junket to the confab were paid by the Federalist Society. The justice’s close relationship with the Federalists persists unabated, as he highlighted the Society’s 2013 lawyers’ convention, sitting before an adoring crowd for a live onstage interview with ultraconservative federal appellate judge Diane Sykes.

In August, in response to the scandals surrounding Thomas, a group of 61 House Democrats introduced HR 2902, the Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2013. If passed, the bill would require the Supreme Court to promulgate a binding code of ethics defining outlawed conflicts of interest and prohibited activities similar to the canons of conduct currently in place for lower-court judges, but from which the Supreme Court is exempt.

As mild as the measure is—especially when at least an official pre-impeachment investigation of Thomas seems justified—HR 2902 is gathering dust in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. In the meantime, Thomas and the conservative court majority continue with business as usual while the rest of us look on with dismay. 

Impeach Clarence Thomas? Don’t count on it anytime soon.


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