On Tuesday this week, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is chairing a hearing of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Judicial Ethics and Transparency. This interrogation of outside forces that undermine the fairness of the United States Supreme Court is absolutely necessary. According to a 2022 Pew poll, respect for the Supreme Court has plunged, with the proportion of Americans who view the court in a favorable light hitting the lowest level in nearly four decades. Only 16% of Americans polled think judges do a good job of keeping politics out of their decision-making.
The extremism and extreme partisanship of the right-wing faction that dominates the Court has been laid bare by the cases they have handpicked from thousands to rule on this term, which can result in edicts radically reactionary who overthrow Roe vs. Wade, gutting the EPA, and pushing religion further into public schools. Such court statements that Donald Trump packed with the help of black money would be in stark contrast to long-standing legal precedents and the views of most Americans.
The growing scandal around Judge Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni has deepened the crisis engulfing the court of John Roberts.
One of the elements of how black money continues to pervert the Court happened last month.
A curious thing happened during the row over Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court: a secretly funded $1.5 million ad was launched centering on…Judge Clarence Thomas. He used Judge Jackson as a hook to promote a biopic about Thomas.
Just a day later the Washington Post and SCS announced that Thomas’ wife, Ginni, repeatedly texted Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to overturn the 2020 presidential election. She even told Meadows which lawyers should lead the fight, namely conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell.
As the outcry over the actions of a Supreme Court justice’s wife was about to explode, the ad was exposed, polishing her husband’s image. It’s crisis management 101, and that amounts to a huge giveaway to the Thomases.
The front group behind the ad calls itself the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), but who wrote the check?
JCN is not an impartial party. It is the signature group of longtime Thomas ally Leonard Leo who sits at the center of a court capture ring that has spent millions in black money to bring three new Clarence Thomas allies to court. Court: Justices Coney Barrett, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch.
In 2019, the Washington Post counted Leo’s network at $250 million since 2014, which True North Research updated to nearly $600 million, not including funds recently raised to oppose Judge Jackson.
Ginni praised Leo when she presented him with an award she created a few years ago:
“I also love… Leonard Leo. [He] single-handedly changed the face of the judiciary under the auspices of… the Federalist Society… He wears many hats, that’s not even all he does. He doesn’t really say everything he does, but I know enough to know that man is a force of nature.”
Like Leo, Ginni Thomas also wears many hats. As journalist Jane Mayer detailed in the new yorkerGinni has been at the heart of highly political activity, including paid advice for FedUp PAC, supporting Roy Moore’s 2017 Senate bid, and Frank Gaffney’s anti-Muslim group, Center for Security Policy, which participated in a litigation in the Supreme Court that Justice Thomas did not recuse himself.
New revelations show Ginni Thomas was wearing another hat: trying to dictate who the Trump administration hired.
With each new revelation, new questions arise. Who was paying Thomas’ consulting fees when she sought to install people who fit her political agenda—and purge those who didn’t—into the White House?
Did Thomas receive consulting payments as she asked the White House to stop counting Americans’ votes in exchanges with Meadows in November 2020. Was she acting on behalf of a client or in concert with other groups or funders?
Notably, weeks of communications between Ginni and Meadows are still missing. We know she promoted and attended the mall event that started the bloody uprising, but we have no idea who was paying Thomas at the time.
We also don’t know who Thomas was working for when her husband was the sole judge to vote against Trump’s order to release White House documents related to Jan. 6 to Congress — documents that include communications from his wife?
The financial disclosure filed by Judge Thomas does not reveal how much Ginni has been paid in recent years, let alone who her biggest clients or their backers are. This is outrageous and shows that the disclosure rules need to be reformed.
We the people have a moral right to know who is plucking the nest of a judge sitting in judgment of cases that reach the Supreme Court. We have a right to know if they have cases before the Court or if they are funding groups that are trying to overturn legal precedents and people’s rights.
The American people also have a right to know who funded the public relations campaign to promote Judge Thomas as the controversy over Ginni’s activities became public knowledge.
From what little we already know, however, one thing is clear: Judge Thomas should resign; his wife sought to subvert our very democracy.
If he doesn’t, Chief Justice John Roberts should insist that Thomas step down – immediately – rather than let this corruption continue to tar the Court.
The House should initiate the impeachment of Thomas. The January 6 Committee should hold Ginni Thomas to account if she refuses to hand over the complete files.
Finally, Congress must pass the DISCLOSE Act and the AMICUS Act, as Sens implored. Whitehouse, Bloom and others to prevent something like this from happening again.
Americans deserve a Supreme Court that is fair and honest, above reproach and dedicated to the highest level of ethics, rather than the lowest of the lowest with Clarence Thomas on the bench.
CrossPosted by Common Dreams.