The Senate Judiciary Committee staged a hearing on May 2 to consider Supreme Court ethics reform. Or to attack and undermine the Court’s recent work generally and Justice Clarence Thomas especially. Republicans on the committee made a compelling case to blunt accusations against Thomas. They demonstrated how every example of an outrageous or merely problematic gift or trip didn’t raise eyebrows when previously accepted or traveled by a Justice on the Court’s left bloc.
It’s Only Wrong for Justice Thomas
The attacks on Thomas were renewed in early April with Pro Publica’s hit piece on the judge’s friendship with Harlan Crow. “Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire” detailed Crow’s hospitality extended toward the Thomases, painted in the most nefarious tones possible. The team that crafted the article couldn’t find a single source that suggested Thomas changed, altered, or shaded a ruling based on this relationship. Nevertheless, they seized the opportunity to allude that Crow bought Thomas.
Republicans shredded Democrats’ talking points with facts about justices on the left. What if Thomas had signed a copy of his ruling in the landmark New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen and presented it to the NRA to auction for money? He didn’t. But Ruth Bader Ginsburg autographed a copy of her decision overturning the Virginia Military Institute’s all-male admissions criteria so that the National Organization for Women could auction it off and reap the proceeds. In a sweet bit of irony, Thomas did recuse himself from that case because his son attended the school.
Retired Justice Stephen Breyer is a favorite of the Pritzker family, worth north of $30 billion. He has been flown around the world on their dime and has served on the Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury since 2011. They dole out big bucks to architects and host events all over the globe. Do they have economic interests that Supreme Court cases might impact? You would never know, listening to those now complaining about Thomas. Ginsburg also accepted travel gifts and more from a billionaire – Israeli businessman Morris Kahn. There’s no indication she was a close friend of Kahn, as Thomas is with Crow.
Sincerity Not Their Strong Suit
If Thomas makes an error, even one his enemies call a mistake, on disclosure filings, somehow that is a crisis. Yet, when Justice Sonia Sotomayor or Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson does so, there is no such difficulty. More and more examples were presented. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, a witness for the Republicans, perhaps said it best: These criticisms of Thomas are “impossible for me to square with a professed concern for the integrity of the court by those making the criticism.”
The hearing was held on the one-year anniversary of the leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, the case that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Ever since then, Justices have had to contend with demonstrators outside their homes and even their children’s schools. After detailing threats to their lives — including the attempted assassination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said he was speaking only of the Justices who signed the majority opinion on Dobbs, “as only the dissenters in the case have been spared the rage machine’s bullying, threats, and intimidation tactics.” He then mentioned Justice Samuel Alito’s recent interview in The Wall Street Journal, in which he said he had a “pretty good idea who is responsible” for the leak. Alito went on:
“Those of us who were thought to be in the majority, thought to have approved my draft opinion, were really targets of assassination … It was rational for people to believe that they might be able to stop the decision in Dobbs by killing one of us.”
Meanwhile, several Democrats in the Senate sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee asking it to decrease the budget allotment for the Supreme Court by $10 million. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and others noted that was the amount requested for heightened security for the Justices and court facilities. Several Republicans recalled during the hearing that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) spoke from the steps of the Supreme Court in 2020. He shook his fist and shouted, “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh — you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price! You won’t know what hit you!”
The Democrats’ hypocrisy over concerns that Thomas’ actions have been improper was so thick in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, you could have cut it with a knife.
All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation.
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