Clarence Thomas – The Original #Weinergate (via Allan Brauer)

[This post (written by Allan Brauer) is long, but sooooooo worth it. -ABLxx]

Long Dong Silver rides again!

OK, so the right-wing noise machine wants you to talk about Anthony Weiner’s wiener. That’s the ONLY thing they want you to talk about. Not how Wall Street is filling its pants in fear that the Frankenstein monster they’ve created called the 112th Congress will crash the economy because they hate Obama and want him to fail, even if it means we (everybody except the rich Republicans, natch) have to live in cardboard boxes under a freeway overpass and barbecue pigeons over a fire to make that come to pass.

Not the fact that a district in western New York that has been represented by Republicans since 1970 just sent a woman Democrat to Congress for swearing in today, because everyone in the GOP voted to do away with Medicare and give you a coupon for half-off the early-bird special at the United Health Urgent Care Clinic, and voters think that’s stupid and cruel.

And definitely not the financial disclosure forms that Clarence Thomas just filed on Friday. Definitely not those.

What the fuck is up?

To understand why Andrew Breitbart is obsessing on an erection in some anonymous guy’s underpants, and doing his damndest to inject insinuations into formerly respectable media outlets that Anthony Weiner is sexually harassing an attractive young African American woman, you have to go back in time.

Right-wingers have a disturbing habit of nursing their grievances across generations. They’re still convinced the wrong team won the Civil War, even though, back then, they were on the winning team. Yep, the Republicans led the Union, but they grieve for the Confederacy. And the mother of all contemporary right-wing grievances, believe it or not, is yet another battle they won. They love their grievances so much that they even transform their wins into opportunities to stew and burn with white-hot anger. I call them “sore winners”.

You see, there was this skeezy, low-down damp skidmark of a perv who lied to Congress and got away with it, and was elevated for life to the most unaccountable and untouchable job in the entire federal government, Supreme Court Justice, where he has been, by all accounts, one of the very worst practitioners in the history of that body, where he facilitated the corporate subversion of democracy, filed fraudulent financial disclosure forms, and failed repeatedly to recuse himself in cases where he had known (and sometimes concealed) conflicts of interest. The bad guys won. And they’re still not over it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you — Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, lying sack of shit.

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…

Once upon a time there was a lawyer named Clarence Thomas. He truly was born a poor black child in the American South, and by all accounts worked hard and diligently, gained the best education, and graduated from Yale Law School. But he sensed in his interactions with others that everything he had achieved had been tainted, because everyone presumed he had advanced due to affirmative action and not on his own merits. This was the key to his sore winnerdom. He couldn’t appreciate anything he achieved because of how others viewed him.

As a Republican, Thomas fulfilled several agendas for others around him as well as for himself. He was the proof, you see, that Republicans are not racists. Oh no, why look here, we’ve got one too. Why, anyone as smart and talented as Clarence here is welcome at our club! And he worked for everything he got, unlike those urban, Democrat “others”. He knew that he was a trophy and a prize pony for the party, and as a young man who had encountered and stood up to incidences of discrimination himself, he had to feel some resentment, and some corresponding sense that his meteoric rise within GOP ranks was also tainted by the role his race played. However, he was also smart enough never to speak out against this specific brand of “affirmative action”, even as his color insulated him and the GOP from charges of racial bias.

First appointed by Reagan to the Department of Education, then in 1982 made the Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, he was instrumental in defanging the organization. The focus shifted from class actions based on race to individualized claims, and in 1984 he famously gave an interview in which he excoriated the African American community leaders because all they did was “bitch, bitch, bitch” at Reagan. He blamed African Americans for the social and behavioral problems that he asserted contributed to their lower status. He opposed affirmative action and big government, though he had been a career civil servant himself.

G.H.W. Bush appointed him to the US Court of Appeals DC district in 1991, and considered him for the Supreme Court vacancy that ultimately went to David Souter, but when Thurgood Marshall retired, Bush nominated Thomas to fill his vacancy.

FBI investigators started the routine inquiries into Thomas’ background, and when they did, they interviewed a former employee of Thomas’ first at the Department of Education, then at the EEOC. And what she shared was troubling.

Anita Hill, a Good Republican Soldier

Anita Hill had known Clarence Thomas for some time when she went to work for him at the Department of Education. As political appointees and African American Republicans, they traveled in similar circles and even belonged to an informal networking group together. It’s important to understand that Anita was a conservative good soldier, not a leftist or feminist. There was not a lot of daylight between the two of them in that regard, and their clashes never appeared to be about politics, no matter how much it suits people today to imagine that she was some liberal agent with an agenda.

She worked with Thomas as his first marriage was deteriorating and ultimately fell apart, and she began having uncomfortable interactions with him from the very start. He put pressure on her to date him and talked about sex and porn movies he had viewed, no matter how much she tried to dissuade him. But when he was promoted to the EEOC, in spite of her discomfort, she followed along and continued a working relationship with him because it seemed to be the best thing for her own career advancement, and she rationalized to herself that his bad behavior was on the wane.

The contents of Anita Hill’s interview had been shared with the Senate, along with all the other interviews and testimonials of Thomas fans and supporters. And Thomas’ hearings began like every other before his, with Senators asking Thomas questions attempting to tease out his judicial philosophy and temperament, and Thomas trying his best to be non-committal in his answers. The hearings were nearing their close when someone from the Senate leaked Anita Hill’s interview to the press.

Suddenly, Washington was buzzing with the story of a young woman who said Clarence Thomas was a sexual harasser. And though an issue of personal conduct like this had not come up in any modern Supreme Court confirmation hearings, it clearly needed to be aired and evaluated along with all the other witness testimony.

The Shit Hits the Fan

Once the interview with the FBI was leaked to the press, it was decided to reopen the confirmation hearings, and the Senate called Anita Hill to testify before the Judiciary Committee. From her opening statement, the Senate was thrown into issues it had never expected to confront and simply did not know how to handle.

During this period at the Department of Education, my working relationship with Judge Thomas was positive. I had a good deal of responsibility and independence. I thought he respected my work and that he trusted my judgment.
After approximately 3 months of working there, he asked me to go out socially with him. What happened next and telling the world about it are the two most difficult things, experiences of my life. It is only after a great deal of agonizing consideration and a number of sleepless nights that I am able to talk of these unpleasant matters to anyone but my close friends.
I declined the invitation to go out socially with him, and explained to him that I thought it would jeopardize what at the time I considered to be a very good working relationship. I had a normal social life with other men outside of the office. I believed then, as now, that having a social relationship with a person who was supervising my work would be ill advised. I was very uncomfortable with the idea and told him so.
I thought that by saying “no” and explaining my reasons, my employer would abandon his social suggestions. However, to my regret, in the following few weeks he continued to ask me out on several occasions. He pressed me to justify my reasons for saying “no” to him. These incidents took place in his office or mine. They were in the form of private conversations which would not have been overheard by anyone else.
After a brief discussion of work, he would turn the conversation to a discussion of sexual matters. His conversations were very vivid. He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals, and films showing group sex or rape scenes. He talked about pornographic materials depicting individuals with large penises, or large breasts involved in various sex acts.
On several occasions Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess. Because I was extremely uncomfortable talking about sex with him at all, and particularly in such a graphic way, I told him that I did not want to talk about these subjects. I would also try to change the subject to education matters or to nonsexual personal matters, such as his background or his beliefs. My efforts to change the subject were rarely successful.

No, I'm not going to show you the rest of the picture. And anyway, it was fake. But does the porn star Seka look like anyone else in this story to you?

The cross examination was brutal, and as she was pressed for details behind the content of her opening statement by the ruthless questioning of Arlen Specter, Orrin Hatch and others, America stopped in its tracks to watch it all play out on live TV, and we learned more than we ever wanted to know about Long Dong Silver and pubic hairs on Coke cans. Even now, just reliving those days makes me want to stop writing this post periodically and shower.

Because the testimony Anita provided was so detailed, so specific, and so grotesque, people who didn’t really grasp or understand the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in our culture, or how limited the choices were for a woman in her situation, scrambled for excuses and tried to poke holes in Anita’s testimony. Why didn’t she do anything about her treatment? Why would she follow him from the Dept. of Education to the EEOC if he was so gross? Why would she continue to make occasional contact with him if he was such a letch? She must be making it up. She must have had the hots for him and he turned her down. Yeah, that’s got to be it. No way any of this could be true.

And then Clarence Thomas asked to make a statement, and the Senate blew up in a million pieces.

Playing the “Race Card” from the Bottom of the Deck

Clarence Thomas decided to go on the offensive. Not only would he categorically deny every allegation that had been made against him, he would open his testimony with the most potent language of victimization available to him.

This is not an opportunity to talk about difficult matters privately or in a closed environment. This is a circus. It’s a national disgrace. And from my standpoint, as a black American, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.

He stared down the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and dared them to press on with their inquiries into his past. He was an innocent victim of the most heinous racially motivated attack, and to continue down this path would be racist.

And the Senate blinked.

Anita Hill Stood Alone (in a Crowd)

People whose agenda depended on discrediting Anita Hill claimed that her charges were bogus because she hadn’t spoken out until Thomas stood to be appointed to the Supreme Court. But the committee heard testimony from a panel of supporters of Anita Hill on the third day of the reopened Supreme Court confirmation hearings. [You can view the entire panel testimony at C-SPAN by following the link. – ed.] Distinguished and credible witnesses came forth to verify that Anita Hill had made them aware of her treatment by Thomas years before he was nominated to the Supreme Court. One of the witnesses who corroborated Anita Hill’s story was Susan Hoerchner, who verified that Hill had shared information with her in the past about her experiences working for Clarence Thomas. The following are some excerpts from the panel’s testimony by Hoerchner, by then a judge in California.

SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER Republican of Pennsylvania: Judge Hoerchner, you called, according to the information you’ve given us before, you called Professor Hill the day of the appointment of Judge Thomas to the Supreme Court of the United States, is that correct?


SENATOR SPECTER: And what was the purpose of that call?

JUDGE HOERCHNER: I called to ask her whether she had heard about the nomination. And she said she had been contacted by telephone by the press, and she heard about it that way, and that her stomach turned.

I asked her whether she was going to say anything. She did not give me a direct answer.

SENATOR SPECTER: Why did you ask her why she — whether she was going to say anything? Was there some thought in your mind that she should come forward?

JUDGE HOERCHNER: I had no thought of should or shouldn’t. I wanted to see what she was going to do.

SENATOR SPECTER: And what was her response to you at that time?

JUDGE HOERCHNER: She replied that she was appalled at the treatment of Professor, then-Judge Bork in his confirmation hearing. And from that I concluded that she did not intend to step forward.

SENATOR SPECTER: And did she tell you at that time that she thought that both Judge Bork and Judge Thomas should stand or fall on their ideas?

JUDGE HOERCHNER: I believe she did.


SENATOR SPECTER: Let me move on then, Judge Hoerchner. You talked on page 30 of your deposition about your view of Judge Thomas, and it starts page 30, line 5. Well, skip up to line 2, where it says:

Question: And you based, you said, an attitude toward power. Where did that come from? Why would you think that Judge Thomas had an attitude about power? Where did that come from?

JUDGE HOERCHNER: It came from the idea that most of the positions that he had that I knew about were in civil rights, equal employment opportunity, and that his behavior really showed a disregard for general principles of equal opportunity or the rights of individuals, and it led me to believe that he possibly thought that the law was for other people.

Question: My question, Judge Hoerchner, did you ever consider in the light of Professor Hill’s telling you that Judge Thomas had sexually harassed her and he was the chairman of the E.E.O.C., which was the nation’s chief law enforcement officer on this issue, did you ever consider giving Professor Hill advice that she ought to come forward and expose him so that he would not be in a position to thwart appropriate enforcement of equal rights and laws against sexual harassment?

JUDGE HOERCHNER: No, Senator, I did not. I believe that the tremendous inequity in power between them would have been dispositive.


SENATOR HERB KOHL (Democrat of Wisconsin): Judge Hoerchner, I’d like to ask you a question inasmuch as you are a judge, and interested in your opinion on — in contrast to Anita Hill who we discussed today, and the pain and suffering that she’s endured, from your vantage point as a judge, do you have any comment to make on the pain and the suffering that’s been endured by Judge Thomas’ family here? Can you give us some insight, offer some words?

JUDGE HOERCHNER: Yesterday Judge Thomas spoke here very eloquently about the pain that he has experienced. There is only one person to blame for that pain. I know no one who takes any joy in his suffering. His suffering is very apparent. There is, however, only one person to blame. It is not the press, it is not the person or persons who leaked the information. It is not Anita Hill. He is suffering as a result of his own actions.

And there’s another person who has been suffering much, much longer. She’s suffering now. She was suffering 10 years ago. And she is not suffering as a result of her actions. And that person is Anita Hill.

Note specifically that in the passage above, Anita Hill was taking the official Republican line, that the confirmation hearings of Robert Bork, someone with whom she had worked in the past, were inappropriately politicized and biased against him as a conservative. Are you getting the point yet that Anita Hill was not a flaming liberal with a political axe to grind against Thomas?

When Thomas published his autobiography in 2007, Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post, who had covered the hearings, wrote a column that summarizes the case against Clarence as simply and directly as anyone has.

Hill was not the only former subordinate of Thomas’s with complaints. Former EEOC employee Angela Wright described how Thomas pressured her to date him, showed up uninvited at her apartment and asked her breast size. “Clarence Thomas would say to me, ‘You know you need to be dating me… You’re one of the finest women I have on my staff,” Wright told Senate investigators.

Wright’s account was corroborated by Rose Jourdain, a former speechwriter who, like Wright, was dismissed by Thomas. Jourdain said Wright had complained that she was “increasingly nervous about being in his presence alone” because of comments “concerning her figure, her body, her breasts, her legs.”

Another former Thomas employee, Sukari Hardnett, said of his office, “If you were young, black, female and reasonably attractive, you knew full well you were being inspected and auditioned as a female.”

…some of the behavior Hill complained about resonated with episodes from Thomas’s past. Hill described an episode in which Thomas, drinking a soda, asked, “Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?” James Millet, a college classmate of Thomas’, recalled “an almost identical episode” at Holy Cross. “Pubic hair was one of the things he talked about,” another classmate said. Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, in “Strange Justice,” found two others who recalled a pubic hair-Coke can comment at the EEOC.

Similarly, Thomas had a well-known taste for the kind of extreme pornography Hill said he brought up with her. “Listening to her, it was as if I was listening to the guy I knew speak,” said law school classmate Henry Terry. Washington lawyer Fred Cooke saw Thomas, while EEOC chairman, checking out a triple-X video of “The Adventures of Bad Mama Jama.”

Angela Wright, though her statement was entered into the record and was waiting in the wings to testify, was never called as a witness, leaving Anita Hill hanging out all alone, a shameful decision by the Judiciary Committee which facilitated those who painted the story as “he said/she said” instead of “he said/she and others said”.

In the end, the Senate Judiciary Committee split on the nomination and sent it to the full Senate without recommendation, and by a 52-48 margin, Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court was confirmed, a lifetime appointment from which it is virtually impossible to remove a Justice.

The bad guys won. But the process was so ugly, and the lessons both sides learned from it so searing, that we’re still living with the consequences.

I Believe Anita Hill

There was a huge and obvious gender gap on reactions to the Thomas confirmation hearings and the degree to which people found Anita Hill credible. The extent to which she was cross-examined, and the insulting and demeaning things that were said or insinuated about her, caused women everywhere to stand up and speak out as never before. Women came out of the closet about their own experiences with sexual harassment, and “I Believe Anita Hill” buttons popped up everywhere. That all of this disgusting behavior was being carried out inside the executive offices of the EEOC was an irony that was not lost on many Americans. Within a few years, major corporations had begun revising their codes of conduct to define harassment better, training managers and employees on the rules of the road, strengthening enforcement and attempting to make it safer for victims of harassment to come forward with their experiences.

Anita Hill went on to continue her career as a professor, and wrote a book about her experiences. Here, in a 2001 conversation, she shares some insights into race and gender, and how they played out in the Thomas hearings.

Angela Wright, the woman whose statement led to her being called to testify against Thomas, but who was never put on the stand, was interviewed by Michel Martin on NPR a few weeks after Thomas’ autobiographical book was published in 2007 (you can hear the interview at the NPR link).

MARTIN: I know that you read the memoir. You read it after we contacted you, and I mentioned you aren’t in the book, I don’t know how you feel about that. But I just wondered if you had any reaction to Clarence Thomas’s memoirs. Is there anything that you learned from the book that changed, perhaps, the way you view him or what happened between you?

Ms. WRIGHT: Well, no. I always knew him to be a mean spirited, nasty, you know, fairly unstable person. It was enlightening to read his account of his childhood because that did put it in perspective. I actually, my heart went out to the young child Clarence, once I understood, you know, he was a child, you know, whose father was absent and whose mother sent him away. He was raised by an unemotional grandfather. I finally understood where all his anger and mean spiritedness came from. I knew it was there. And also, his self-loathing and his hatred for anything black or civil rights-oriented or affirmative action.

MARTIN: By wait, wait a minute, I’m sorry, Angela. This was some fairly strong words that you’re using so I do have to ask, what is the basis for your saying that you feel that there is self-loathing there? And I know we don’t have – we only have a couple of minutes left but…

Ms. WRIGHT: Oh, for doing it – I know. Well, I mean, as his director of public affairs, I sat in his staff meetings while he made jokes about pickaninny dolls, and he did it for the entertainment of white people. And he teased some other white staffer who was having some trouble getting a loan or something, saying, you’re just not black enough. You need to get black. Wear a Dashiki and pump your fist and then you can get all the money you want. So it was that kind of thing. He always took a special effort to denigrate anything about black people, about civil rights, affirmative – and that to me is self-loathing. [Remember, this is the head of the freaking EEOC under Reagan and Bush I we’re talking about here. Talk about regulatory capture! Jesus H Tapdancing Christ… – ed.]

MARTIN: So finally, Angela, I know this, I feel I need to emphasize for the sake of – and we only have time for yes or no answer. Do you stand by the testimony that you gave or rather the interview that you gave 16 years ago to the Senate Judiciary Committee saying that Thomas made these inappropriate comments to you? Do you stand by those comments?

Ms. WRIGHT: Absolutely.

The Political Aftermath

Even though Thomas had been appointed to the Court, the experience of his confirmation hearing had ripple effects that shaped an entire generation of political operatives. A conservative sleaze-merchant by the name of David Brock wrote a brutal hit-piece of a book called The Real Anita Hill, in which, as he characterized it later, he did everything he could to “ruin Hill’s credibility,” using “virtually every derogatory and often contradictory allegation I had collected on Hill into the vituperative mix. I demonized Democratic senators, their staffs, and Hill’s feminist supporters without ever interviewing any of them.”

Not long after, while working on smearing the Clintons in similar fashion, he had an epiphany and renounced his evil ways, and ultimately founded Media Matters, the liberal-leaning organization that monitors the smear and disinformation machine of the American Right.

At the same time a young man named Andrew Breitbart watched the Thomas hearings and had an epiphany of his own. He credits the treatment of Clarence Thomas, and a daily dose of Rush Limbaugh, with converting him to the cause of conservatism. In fact, Breitbart’s latest book is dedicated to Clarence Thomas, and he grows verklempt relating the story of the time Ginni Thomas introduced herself to him. (Don’t click this clip of Breitbart being led through his paces by Armstrong Williams without a puke bucket standing by.)

It’s fascinating to think how each of them changed teams as a result of the Thomas hearings, and how they remain, to this day, sworn enemies. And how the events of that hearing are still driving the narratives of resentment and sore winnerdom for the vicious, sleazy, lying scumbuckets who are now attacking Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Ginni Thomas, the Intersection of Right-Wing Cash and Judicial Capture

Clarence Thomas’ second wife Virginia, the Seka look-alike who was photographed sitting primly and grimly behind Clarence as he underwent his “high-tech lynching” was herself a right-wing True Believer. She cut her teeth at the Chamber of Commerce, where she worked but failed to prevent the Family and Medical Leave Act from being enacted into law. As spouse of a Supreme Court Justice, she continued her career at the Department of Labor, and then worked for Congressman Dick Armey, later of FreedomWorks. No one denies the right of any judge’s spouse to work and have other interests. The question is, when does that work and those interests create conflicts of interest for the spouse in the judiciary? It seemed that Ginni Thomas was constantly at the heart of the conservative movement, and her fingers were all over the major issues of the day, many of which would come up in Supreme Court cases. By 2000, Thomas was working at the Heritage Foundation, and while Bush v. Gore was being decided, she was already collecting resumes for political appointments to the George W. Bush administration, then serving as the Foundation’s White House liaison during the Bush presidency.

Though Ginni kept a generally low profile and managed to keep her name out of the newspapers, she and Clarence did give some interviews when he published his autobiography. This led to some renewed talk of concerns about her explicitly political career and how it might impact Thomas’ impartiality, but they brushed them off.

A Phone Call Out of the Blue…

In October, 2010, a truly bizarre story broke. Anita Hill had contacted campus security at the university where she teaches because someone had left an odd and ominous voice mail message for her, purportedly from Ginni Thomas. She wanted an apology.

Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. Okay have a good day.

In short time, it was confirmed that Ginni had placed the call and sincerely felt the two of them had unfinished business that needed to be resolved, while Anita Hill indicated she had done nothing wrong and had nothing for which to apologize. Shortly thereafter, the motivation for this oddly timed call became clearer, when Lillian McEwen, who had dated Clarence between his marriages, announced that she was shopping a memoir of their time together that would confirm much of what Hill had shared about Thomas’ sexual interests and aggressive style of pursuing women. People speculated that word of this book had filtered to Ginni and triggered a defensive reaction to re-accuse Hill of lying about her husband, in hopes of inoculating at least the right-wing True Believers against yet another confirming voice.

Shortly thereafter, Ginni Thomas launched Liberty Central, a Tea Party group, and stepped out into the spotlight on her own right in an unabashedly political role which seemed to market her behind-the-scenes influence on conservative politics and the Supreme Court, triggering yet another round of conversations about conflicts of interest as she took explicit positions on legal matters that would potentially come before the Court, most notably the Affordable Care Act.

Someone Finally Notices

Perhaps as a result of the newfound attention to Ginni Thomas’ political influence and the conflicts of interest her actions created for her husband, Common Cause took a look at Thomas’ annual financial disclosure reports and noticed a glaring omission. Thomas had indicated no employment or income for Ginni from 2003 to 2009, while she had earned over $680,000 from the Heritage Foundation, and no indication of her employment and income from Liberty Central.

While legal experts concluded this was not a crime, and in fact the Supreme Court is not bound by the same code of ethics as other federal judges, such an obvious oversight over many years seemed an especially egregious lack of transparency and ethics on Clarence Thomas’ part. Ultimately, the Thomases filed amended forms for the period in question, and finally put her employment on the record.

A Letter from Congressman Anthony Weiner

In February, 2011, armed with all these concerns, and anticipating the release of Thomas’ 2010 financial disclosure forms that would reveal Ginni Thomas’ Liberty Central income for the first time, a Congressman drafted a letter that was co-signed by 74 members of Congress, taking the issue of recusal and conflicts of interest directly to Clarence Thomas’ door.

Dear Justice Thomas:

As an Associate Justice, you are entrusted with the responsibility to exercise the highest degree of discretion and impartiality when deciding a case. As Members of Congress, we were surprised by recent revelations of your financial ties to leading organizations dedicated to lobbying against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We write today to respectfully ask that you maintain the integrity of this court and recuse yourself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of this act.

The appearance of a conflict of interest merits recusal under federal law. From what we have already seen, the line between your impartiality and you and your wife’s financial stake in the overturn of healthcare reform is blurred. Your spouse is advertising herself as a lobbyist who has “experience and connections” and appeals to clients who want a particular decision – they want to overturn health care reform. Moreover, your failure to disclose Ginny Thomas’s receipt of $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent opponent of healthcare reform, between 2003 and 2007 has raised great concern.

This is not the first case where your impartiality was in question. As Common Cause points out, you “participated in secretive political strategy sessions, perhaps while the case was pending, with corporate leaders whose political aims were advanced by the [5-4] decision” on the Citizens United case. Your spouse also received an undisclosed salary paid for by undisclosed donors as CEO of Liberty Central, a 501(c)(4) organization that stood to benefit from the decision and played an active role in the 2010 elections.

Given these facts, there is a strong conflict between the Thomas household’s financial gain through your spouse’s activities and your role as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. We urge you to recuse yourself from this case. If the US Supreme Court’s decision is to be viewed as legitimate by the American people, this is the only correct path.

We appreciate your thoughtful consideration of this request.


Weiner followed this letter up with the Conflicted Clarence Thomas campaign, highlighting Thomas’ conflicts due to Ginni’s work and income, collecting signatures from citizens who shared his outrage, and making life very uncomfortable for Thomas and his die-hard supporters.

The Friday-Before-Holiday-Weekend Document Drop

At last, on Friday, May 27, just before the Memorial Day weekend, Clarence Thomas released his 2010 financial disclosure forms, and Anthony Weiner was standing by, ready to pore over them and broadcast what they revealed across all media, including… Twitter.

You know what happened next. And if you’ve been living in a cave for the last week, you can read all about it here.

But notice now what you may not have noticed before. How allegations that Anthony Weiner sexually harassed a young African American woman just appeared out of the blue at the very moment when Weiner’s campaign to discredit Clarence Thomas was peaking. Think some more about what you’ve learned that you may not know, or have forgotten, about the history of the players in this drama and their nexus with the story of the man whose name came to be synonymous with sexual harassment in the American culture 20 years ago. Think about how distracted the media have been from the story of Clarence Thomas, in spite of the efforts of Anthony Weiner to keep a spotlight on Thomas. Think of how CNN and all the other networks want to talk about allegations of sexual impropriety against Anthony Weiner, when 20 years ago their attention was focused on Thomas.

However this story ultimately resolves, and whatever we ultimately learn about the photo in question and how it ended up where it did, and why a mysterious stranger on Twitter has been stalking people for some time whose only connection is Twitter friendship with Congressman Weiner, it seems this strange conservative True Believer has been searching for dirt on Weiner and/or the most media-genic candidate to pose as a victim of Weiner’s harassment, and timed it expertly to explode on the same day Thomas’ financial disclosure forms were released.

And that is why when you say Weinergate, I say Clarence Thomas.

[cross-posted here at Angry Black Lady Chronicles]

88 replies
  1. 1
    Doug Harlan J says:

    Tell us what you really think!

    Great epic post, brava.

  2. 2
    stuckinred says:

    Thanks ABL!

  3. 3
    cathyx says:

    Did we really have to have a closeup of it? Really?

  4. 4
    MAJeff says:

    There’s a section in Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She? (pp. 125-6) that the right’s protectiveness of Thomas reminds me of:

    Texans too have an awesome love of sport; our problem is that we’re tacky. When the University of Texas at Austin finally started a black player in 1970, he was promptly tackled by a black player from the opposing team. Though it may be apocryphal, it is widely reported here that a famous UT booster rose in the stands and screamed, “Goddammit, ref, get that nigger off our colored boy.”

  5. 5
    Angela says:

    Nice! Thanks for the clarity and clearness.

  6. 6
    gex says:

    This seems to suggest the alleged hacker contacted Breitbart before posting those pics.

    Edited for errors.

  7. 7
    robertdsc-PowerBook says:

    Please take the picture down.

  8. 8
    danimal says:

    The Thomas’ creep me out.

  9. 9
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    Ditto. Thanks ABL this is a brilliant post.

  10. 10
    opal says:

    Clarence Thomas introduced gonorrhea to the court circuit.

  11. 11
    Larkspur says:

    @robertdsc-PowerBook: Huh?

    Thanks to Allen Brauer for writing this and ABL for getting it to us. I wasn’t aware of the Breitbart connection before, or I forgot, even though I’ve read both Strange Justice and Blinded By The Right. This is a concise, clear rundown. My blood is starting to boil all over again.

  12. 12
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Clarence Thomas’ second wife Virginia, the Seka look-alike

    80’s porn reference FTW!

  13. 13
    jwb says:

    “There are no coincidences in politics.”

  14. 14
    jimbob says:

    Blud libel!!1! (or something.) Wow.

  15. 15
    tom p says:

    I will read it more fully tomorrow. Thank you.

  16. 16
    Dave says:

    More insightful and relevant than anything CNN has pushed out. Can we give ABL her own news network?

  17. 17
    eemom says:

    So. much. win.

    Great post.

    Great reporting.

    Great smack down.

    And Allan front-paged, which totally pisses off the kewl kids.

    Sell the house, Martha, I’ve died and gone to heaven.

  18. 18

    Excellent post and one which should be spread far and wide. It seems that every time I learn something new about Andrew Breitbart, I despise him even more.

  19. 19
    eemom says:


    that’s cuz they’re creepy.

    And kooky.

    Mysterious’n’spooky? Eh, not so much.

  20. 20
    fasteddie9318 says:


    And Allan front-paged, which totally pisses off the kewl kids.

    It does?

    And even if it did, that would be important?

  21. 21
    eemom says:


    important, no. Snicker-worthy, yes.

  22. 22
    birthmarker says:

    Great interesting post.

  23. 23
    JCT says:

    Thanks ABL,

    Talk about “coming” full circle.

  24. 24
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    OT – but I missed the thread below where it would have been on topic. Chris Christie is just an evil cruel bastard who should roast in hell.

    Apologies for the Daily Kos link but what the fucking fuck, how is a family of 3 supposed to even fucking live on an income of $6K per year? These assholes are just short of asking “what of the workhouses are they still open?” I am getting very depressed about the extent that these cruel, inhuman, vicious people are willing to let people die, they are literally willing to let people starve to death just so long as they can fuck their Ayn Rand fantasies. I am so over this fucking shit. People matter.

  25. 25
    fasteddie9318 says:

    My only real comment on this story is that Rep. Weiner’s response that he can’t conclusively say whether that is or is not a photo of his own privates stretches the very fabric of credulity. He needs to firm up his responses unless he wants the media to take an even harder look into the root of this story.

  26. 26
    patrick II says:


    You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.

    There is a long list of things I hate about Clarence Thomas — and you have covered many, but not all in this wonderous post — but, as you note here, his total hypocrisy for playing the race card — of all things — in his own defense was stunning. Here was a man who was telling the rest of the black community to get over using race as an “excuse” when you weren’t hired, and it was the first thing out of the bag in his own defense. What a total asshole this guy is.

  27. 27
    Susan Sullivan says:

    Brilliant journalism ABL. Push it, push it, girl, because of course the MSM will totally fail on this.

  28. 28
    pukebot says:

    well done abl

  29. 29
    SuzieC says:

    Brilliant journalism, ABL. Keep pushing it, because the MSM will totally fail to even notice this connection.

  30. 30
    Gravenstone says:

    @Hunter Gathers: My first thought on seeing the reference was to fondly remember Seka from back in the day. My second was to mentally picture Ginni Thomas as she is today. My third was to scream, BRAIN BLEACH!!

  31. 31
    Gravenstone says:

    @patrick II: For me, the quote basically summarized what he expected (and perhaps knew) his supporters on the committee would do – to Anita Hill.

  32. 32
    opal says:


    And even if it did, that would be important?

    Who knows. It might be important to some people.

  33. 33
    dlnelson says:

    great post, I actually watched the hearing real time. I do not recall why I watched, or the details, but all the senators seemed to pile on Anita Hill. I am a female, and I did not get it at the time. She had a whole shit storm against her. I know a lying man, and he is a world champion. He is lazy, and a bit creepy . I felt she was honorable, and being picked on for her observations. I believe her observations in turn proved her to be right. This justice is not curious, not involved in the law. Basically phoning it in. I am not a lawyer, but I do know a slacker. The whole hearing taught me as a young white woman, you really cannot buck the system, even if you tell the truth, the powers that be, will not believe you. It was hard to see. I see why rape victims do not even bother. This woman was demonized on national tv. She was surrounded by the most powerful men in this country, who basically called her a liar (in the most gentle terms). I will never forget it. Do not mess with men of power, you will lose.

  34. 34
    robertdsc-PowerBook says:


    The underwear picture. I’d rather not see it splashed all over the front page, thanks.

  35. 35
    shortstop says:

    @patrick II: Yes, and although many have commented through the years on the unbelievably assholishness of him crying “lynching” in light of his own record of telling blacks to get over it, relatively few have gone on to highlight another double standard that his words raised: between black men and black women. I remember a hell of a lot of people talking about bringing a black man down who were at that moment enthusiastically engaged in viciously attacking the reputation of a black woman, his restrained and reluctant accuser. They talked about Thomas in terms of race and gender; when they talked about Hill, it was all about gender. It was as though her blackness was non-existent or invisible.

    It wasn’t very long afterward that Mike Tyson was accused (and later convicted) of raping a Miss Black America contestant, and the stuff that came out of Tyson’s fans’ mouths was along the same lines as the crap said about Thomas-Hill: of course the bitch is lying, she’s part of a conspiracy to stick it to a successful black man, blah blah fucking blah. The two events will forever be linked in my mind because of the horrifying similarity of the responses among apologists for the two men.

    I’m glad that the letter to Thomas was signed by so many members of Congress; someone else in that body has to be ready to take up the leadership of this fight against the Thomases’ blatant COI.

  36. 36
    gene108 says:

    The lessons learned were not from the Thomas hearings, but from the Bork nomination.

    The Left managed to raise such a storm about Bork that the Senate voted to not appoint him to the SCOTUS.

    The Right decided to never let the Left out organize them like that again. The Left didn’t realize the rules of the game or the game itself was changing.

    When Thomas got nominated the Right didn’t give a damn about facts, reality or anything else. They wanted to make up for a loss and WIN. Period. A tendency that is still with the Right to this day.

    It didn’t help Hill that you had 100% male Senate Judiciary committee, along with an almost 100% male Senate, who came of age when sexual harassment as a concept didn’t exist. If a woman was working, she was asking for whatever treatment her male bosses offered.

  37. 37
    shortstop says:

    @robertdsc-PowerBook: Geez, you guys. It’s just a dick, for heaven’s sake. It’s not going to jump out and choke you.

  38. 38
    El Cid says:

    Any post that launches with “Clarence Thomas, Lying Sack of Shit” is going somewhere good.

    Also, fuck all these maniacs who thought that the utterly deranged psychotic Robert Bork was treated badly for being kept off the court — the guy who argued that Constitutionally protected freedom of speech probably just applied to elected federal office-holders while engaged in debate.

  39. 39
    JCT says:

    @shortstop: Or “ram it down your throat” like the ACA.

    Actually “Wienergate” takes the “shiny object” approach to a whole new level.

  40. 40
    gene108 says:

    Ms. WRIGHT: Oh, for doing it – I know. Well, I mean, as his director of public affairs, I sat in his staff meetings while he made jokes about pickaninny dolls, and he did it for the entertainment of white people. And he teased some other white staffer who was having some trouble getting a loan or something, saying, you’re just not black enough. You need to get black. Wear a Dashiki and pump your fist and then you can get all the money you want. So it was that kind of thing. He always took a special effort to denigrate anything about black people, about civil rights, affirmative – and that to me is self-loathing. [Remember, this is the head of the freaking EEOC under Reagan and Bush I we’re talking about here. Talk about regulatory capture! Jesus H Tapdancing Christ… – ed.]

    It’s kind of ironic that someone, who hates AA damn near got his shot as a Supreme Court judge because he’s black. I’ve read that Bush, Sr. wanted to appoint Thomas to as a federal judge before trying to get him onto the SCOTUS. Bush, Sr. figured Marshall wouldn’t retire, when he did. Bush, Sr. didn’t anticipate the sudden health problems Marshall had.

    Unfortunately for America the Republicans didn’t think they could replace Marshall, with another white guy. That would be bad press for them. They HAD to replace Justice Marshall with a black guy.

    Thomas was the black guy on their bench, who they had been grooming for this opportunity.

    If he wasn’t black and they felt they could get away with replacing Justice Marshall with a white guy, Thomas would’ve been a nobody. I doubt he’d have been tapped to head the EEOC.

  41. 41
    rikyrah says:

    I love you ABL.

    This post rocks. Absolutely rocks.

    you’ve nailed it.

    and, if the name Anita Hill had never come up, I STILL would loathe Clarence Thomas. He stood up, shinned, grinned, buckdanced in front of White folks, HUMILIATING his sister, all so that he could get a pat on the head as a SPESHUL KNEEGROW.

    fuck that slave catching coon.

  42. 42
    rikyrah says:


    yes, that fat fuck needs to burn in hell.

  43. 43
    Whiskey Screams from a Guy With No Short-Term Memory says:

    100% – A-plus work, ABL. Nothing else to add.

  44. 44
    gene108 says:


    What scares me most about Christie is he might get re-elected. Assuming the economy is not crashing, like it was in 2009, there are enough people, who only think about tax cuts for themselves that despite his unpopular actions, he may be able to turn out enough voter in an off-off year election – 2013 – to win another term.

  45. 45
    hilts says:


    You deserve a standing ovation.

  46. 46
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    Thank you for this comprehensive, revealing post, ABL.

    At the mercy of the American msm as are most of us, I knew nothing about the weiner/thomas background.

    I appreciate your efforts here.

  47. 47
    Allan says:

    Thank you, ABL, for the cross-post. I’m honored. And thanks as well to all the Juicers for their kind feedback.

  48. 48
    RossInDetroit says:

    This is the longest blog post I’ve read in a very long time and every minute was Win.
    Thank you for not letting our side forget what we’re fighting for. And against.

  49. 49
    veralynn says:



  50. 50
    eemom says:


    Unfortunately for America the Republicans didn’t think they could replace Marshall, with another white guy. That would be bad press for them. They HAD to replace Justice Marshall with a black guy.

    just think, if it’d happened today we’d be looking at Justice Michael Steele.

  51. 51
    No One of Consequence says:

    ABL, that was one righteous bit of writing.

    Well played.

    Preach it Sister!

    – NOoC

  52. 52
    No One of Consequence says:

    Correction, ABL thanks for the cross-post, but Allan:

    Nicely Done Sir!

    – NOoC

  53. 53
    tkogrumpy says:

    Classy piece of word ABL bravo.

  54. 54
    Arclite says:

    Wow, awesome. Thanks.

  55. 55
    M-Pop says:

    That was awesome – eleventy million rainbow stars for that oh-so-in-depth report. Had forgotten nearly everything about the Thomas Hearings and all the players (as you suggest) but this was a great walk down memory lane. And yes, the Weinergate happened at the same time, how convenient!

  56. 56
    joel hanes says:

    I’m old enough to remember ur-wingnut bumperstickers :


    I would buy and use a bumpersticker that said


  57. 57
    tomvox1 says:

    Mr. Brauer, you forgot sleazy uncle Al “stuff coming over the transom” Simpson, who is today inexplicably considered a wise old man and not a deviant scumbag. Otherwise, this is one of the best, most comprehensive round ups of why Clarence Thomas should never have been confirmed. Ever. And most probably you’ve also pinpointed the festering source of what is behind the preposterous “Weinergate.”

    Once upon a time they gave Pulitzers for this kind of journalism. Keep on committing it, if only to show the current crop of corporate teat-sucklers how its done. And thanks ABL for bringing it here.

  58. 58
    eemom says:

    this thread will not be complete until the Justice’s namesake shows up to spew some bile about Obama.

    Let’s see if I can predict……

    President Obama asserts that it is impossible to go back in time to undo the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas. And we believe him, even though he HAS gone back in time to undo his own appointments of the youngest and most liberal Justices on the Court.
    [wait, what? Needs work.]

  59. 59
    greg says:


    I see what you did there.

    I like how you even managed to sneak that “root” in there in the end.

  60. 60
    Hill Dweller says:

    The Alliance for Justice just released a report showing that Obama faced the worst obstructionism of judicial nominees in history during his first 2 years. He had the lowest number(both total and %) confirmed ever. Just 60 total confirmed(58%).

    Carter had more confirmed(62)after his first 2 years, despite the judiciary being 40% smaller during his term.

    The republicans have done some absolute crazy shit the last two years, but you don’t hear a thing about it.

  61. 61
    Caoimhe Snow says:

    This was a great post. Thank you for writing it and sharing it here.

  62. 62
    matt conway says:

    IIRC, didn’t a video store clerk come forward in the 90’s and confirm that clarence thomas did in fact rent porn, despite his protestations in the senate hearings to the contrary?

    i always thought that the gop’s motivation in nominating such an uninspired nobody was “well, if those dems want another n….. in justice marshall’s chair, we’ll give them one to choke on!”

  63. 63
    4jkb4ia says:

    I have to be a big person, and say that I am pleased that Allan had this in him.

    This reminded me of an old diary on DKos explaining to the younger people What Iran-Contra Was in terms of making me feel decrepit.

  64. 64
    The Raven says:

    You know, if someone broke into Weiner’s accounts–which seems likely–that’s a fairly serious crime, most jurisdictions. If Clarence Thomas had anything to do with it, well, is that impeachable?

    Doesn’t seem too likely, does it? But “the guilty flee where no man pursueth.”

  65. 65
    johnsmith1882 says:

    “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

    Thanks ABL for the cross-post, that’s some damn fine journalism.

  66. 66

    I was in college when those hearings happened, and I worked at the law library of the law school where I went to college, so I heard all about them. The guy was a sleaze then and if anything, he’s worse now, hard as that is to believe. It’s hard to understand what could have warped him so badly. Lord knows there are people who grow up with all the hardships he did who don’t sell out the most downtrodden among us.

    And the thing is, the guy is such a fucked up mess, it’s kind of hard not to feel sorry for him in a way. As much unhappiness as he’s had a hand in doling out to so many people for so long, you look at him and see a guy who’s still stewing over his childhood among other things, and taking it out on all the wrong people, and in all the wrong ways, but still, you see a badly wounded broken person.

    And I guess the thing to learn from all of this is how much we need to see that children never again have to deal with the shit he had to deal with. He won’t help anybody who comes after him. He’s an “I got mine, fuck you,” kind of guy. So we, those who aren’t “I got mine, fuck you,” people need to work twice as hard. He’s really kind of tragic in a way, if you think about it, in that he’s so badly flawed, and so powerful at the same time, with such scope for screwing blameless people. And, as is true with literary tragic people, there’s something to be learned from him. If we don’t learn from his sad, wretched life, and fight everything he believes and fights for, we’ll see many other children grow up to be stunted, tragic ogres in their turn.

  67. 67


    While this is indeed damning Michael Steele with faint praise, I want to say that as a Supreme Court justice, he would be worth 500 Clarence Thomases. Hell, a crash test dummy would be worth at least 15 or 20…

  68. 68
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    Why am I so vilified here for putting my wife on the street to earn some extra Coke can money for our family? She takes care of business at home too when we play 3-Hole Mounty, don’t you worry about that. As if it’s any of your damn business. Here comes the judge – next case!

  69. 69
    Matt Smith says:

    A masterful examination of these issues. Wow. ABL just joined my list of must-read blogs.

  70. 70
    Larkspur says:


    The underwear picture. I’d rather not see it splashed all over the front page, thanks.

    Actually, I do get this now. I was just confused at first, because I was not sure which of the posted photos you were referring to. I’ve been thinking about it, and, well, it’s like this: the photo – the provenance of which has not been determined, only alleged – is simply not that upsetting to me. The underwear is clean, the penis is totally covered, it is not being displayed in a threatening manner, so the photo by itself is not shocking to me. I guess it’s because every hour of every day I see a gazillion overtly sexualized photos or representations or depictions of women’s bodies, many of which purport to show the women in highly aroused states. (For a current example, check out any Axe deodorant/body spray commercial.) It’s ordinary, routine, traditional – and for me, always always alienating.

    I don’t think the photo at the top of this post is amusing, nor do I think your objection is mock-worthy. I have no “turnabout is fair play” feeling about it. I just honestly didn’t understand your objection.

  71. 71
    Short Bus Bully says:

    I hate long ass blog posts and I read every WORD of what you wrote. And then linked it to all my friends and family. Fucking outstanding. I learned a ton and you both got my blood boiling and made me better informed.

    Thank you ABL.

  72. 72

    In this case, a picture is worth five thousand, nine hundred and sixty-four words.

  73. 73


    just think, if it’d happened today we’d be looking at Justice Michael Steele.

    We should be so lucky. Try Justice Alan Keyes.

  74. 74
    ItAintEazy says:

    @eemom: @Jimperson Zibb (formerly Duncan Dönitz, Otto Graf von Pfmidtnöchtler-Pízsmőgy, Mumphrey, et al.):

    Talking as a proud socilist black man who believes in reparations and all that good stuff, I’d support Michael Steele for the Supreme Court in a New York minute over that thing that’s occupying the bench.

  75. 75
    c u n d gulag says:

    That was funny, and fact filled. One of the best posts I’ve ever read.
    Take a bow!!!

  76. 76
    jcgrim says:

    Wow! What a brilliant argument that republican exploitation of Thomas’ race is a form of affirmative action.

  77. 77
    tom p says:


  78. 78
    Chrisd says:

    Oh my God, well done!

  79. 79
    Paul in KY says:

    @eemom: The Supremizzle Justizzle he would be! (riffing off The Daily Show’s skewering of him)

  80. 80
    Paul in KY says:

    @Joey Maloney: Gaaa! I hadn’t thought of that. He might be worse than Clarence, probably crazier.

  81. 81
    WereBear says:

    Double dipped awesome.

    I remember totally believing Anita Hill; and wondering why the heck so many people couldn’t. Now, older and wiser, I know it was too many prejudices to count on their part.

  82. 82
    PTirebiter says:

    Unbelievable. Because it is so long, and as you say, “but sooooooo worth it”, you might consider an intro that clearly makes the Weiner, Thomas inquiry upfront.

  83. 83
    cyntax says:

    That is one serious post. Nice work.

  84. 84
    300baud says:

    Fantastic post, ABL. When Ginny Thomas asked for an apology in October my head nearly exploded, and I spent quite a while composing a letter of support to Anita Hill. But I didn’t know half this stuff. Thanks for taking the time!

  85. 85
    Revs says:

    A+++ So good.
    Two Thumbs Up, This Post Cured My Lurking.

  86. 86
    LNW says:

    Wow, excellent post, ABL. Thanks for connecting all the dots.

  87. 87

    […] Clarence Thomas – The Original #Weinergate (Allan Brauer, BalloonJuice, June 2) […]

  88. 88

    […] it up like this guy, all he did was show his dick to a woman that isn’t his wife. Oh, and this. Of course (again), you will never read about this aspect of the story in a US newspaper. Just a […]

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  2. […] Clarence Thomas – The Original #Weinergate (Allan Brauer, BalloonJuice, June 2) […]

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