The Friends of Clarence Thomas


(Jim Morin via GoComics.com)

Drip, drip, drip… None of the very serious courtiers of our national Media Village are going to lower themselves to investigating Ginni Thomas’s finances based on the research of “one Colorado law school prof” and a bunch of foul-mouthed progressive bloggers. However, when the Grey (Just Slightly Shop-Worn) Lady does a four-page report suggesting that the “Friendship of Justice and Magnate Puts Focus on Ethics“…

… The publicity-shy friend turned out to be Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate magnate and a major contributor to conservative causes. Mr. Crow stepped in to finance the multimillion-dollar purchase and restoration of the cannery, featuring a museum about the culture and history of Pin Point that has become a pet project of Justice Thomas’s.
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The project throws a spotlight on an unusual, and ethically sensitive, friendship that appears to be markedly different from those of other justices on the nation’s highest court.
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The two men met in the mid-1990s, a few years after Justice Thomas joined the court. Since then, Mr. Crow has done many favors for the justice and his wife, Virginia, helping finance a Savannah library project dedicated to Justice Thomas, presenting him with a Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass and reportedly providing $500,000 for Ms. Thomas to start a Tea Party-related group. They have also spent time together at gatherings of prominent Republicans and businesspeople at Mr. Crow’s Adirondacks estate and his camp in East Texas.
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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…
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Beyond the code, the justices must comply with laws applying to all federal officials that prohibit conflicts of interest and require disclosure of gifts. Justice Thomas’s gift acceptances drew attention in 2004, when The Los Angeles Times reported that he had accumulated gifts totaling $42,200 in the previous six years — far more than any of the other justices.
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Since 2004, Justice Thomas has never reported another gift. He has continued to disclose travel costs paid by schools and organizations he has visited for speeches and teaching, but he has not reported that any travel was provided by Mr. Crow.
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Travel records for Mr. Crow’s planes and yacht, however, suggest that Justice Thomas may have used them in recent years…

As the NYTimes punctiliously points out, “The [SCOTUS] justices are not bound by the federal judiciary’s conduct code, because it is enforced by a committee of judges who rank below the justices.” And some would say that it’s hardly possible to shame Justice Thomas into behaving ethically, given the circumstances under which he took his current postion. But if the details of his financial improprieties improvisations get wider circulation, at least the subset of the wider public that bothers to vote might get a clearer picture of the people who support Citizens United.

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59 replies
  1. 1
    jo6pac says:

    Use to be the Supreme Court but has become another home for bottom feeders. How sad for Amerika.

  2. 2
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    And some would say that it’s hardly possible to shame Justice Thomas into behaving ethically, given the circumstances under which he took his current postion.

    This nails it.

  3. 3
    Yutsano says:

    I wonder if one of Clarence’s defenses will be he’s being targeted because of his melanin abundance. It would heighten a few ironies with him.

  4. 4
    RossInDetroit says:

    But if the details of his financial improprieties improvisations get wider circulation, at least the subset of the wider public that bothers to vote might get a clearer picture of the people who support Citizens United.

    One can hope, but I doubt it. Too abstract to have any impact, since it requires linking two different events through a personal relationship. You’d have to have a photocopy of a personal check from Crow to Thomas with ‘Citizens United’ in the memo line. And even then some would claim the amount was too small to buy a Justice’s vote.

  5. 5
    JPL says:

    The only travel that Thomas has declared has been from schools and organization. Justice could subpoena records from SMU to verify this. Income tax evasion is still a crime in this country.

  6. 6
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    Why is everybody always pickin’ on me?
    .
    .

  7. 7
    JPL says:

    This is an important topic and surely we’ll have 500 comments about Thomas’ lack of ethics.

  8. 8
    Mike E says:

    Rules are for little people–and when you think big, you don’t have to say nuthin’

  9. 9
    cathyx says:

    I do not for one minute think that Clarence Thomas will be found guilty even if he is investigated, which I doubt will happen. Not in this political climate.

  10. 10
    Evolved Deep Southerner says:

    I think Clarence Thomas is a big ball of weird. I mean, he radiates it. In the 60 Minutes piece done on him some time back, in the press accounts of dealing with him … he’s a ball of shade. And this is before you get into his wife, her shit, and how her shit and his shit intertwines. It doesn’t worry me that this is something that hasn’t just blown up all at once. I’d prefer it be a “slow burner” scandal.

    ETA: My longshot prediction is that he goes down for some kind of personal weirdness that would otherwise be defended by the left. Some legal-but-weird predilection that the left would live with, but that the mainstream right won’t be able to tolerate.

  11. 11
    Yutsano says:

    This is an important topic and surely we’ll have 500 comments about Thomas’ lack of ethics.

    Snicker. U made a funnee!! No Glenn or Obama is teh suxxors = near dead thread.

  12. 12
    JPL says:

    A blog from Macon, GA caused such havoc for Dan Rather, that CBS forced him out. If Huffington carried it at the top for a few days and liberal bloggers kept writing about it then the media might cover the story.
    Maybe inokiyr….

  13. 13
    Alex S. says:

    But do I get this right that lower courts don’t feel responsible for the Supreme Court Justices because they outrank them? Then how can they be removed at all? Is the Senate allowed to start an impeachment trial without any disqualifying conviction according to Art II, Sec. 4?

  14. 14
    eclecticbrotha says:

    I would like to commend the Twitterverse for using the Anthony Weiner debacle as a vehicle to draw more attention to Thomas Family corruption. At least one good thing rises from the ashes of Weiner’s downfall.

  15. 15
    JPL says:

    eclecticbrotha I wonder how much information Weiner gave to the NYTimes. Unless the story is carried by the MSM, it will just go away.

  16. 16
    Tonal Crow says:

    Is the Senate allowed to start an impeachment trial without any disqualifying conviction according to Art II, Sec. 4?

    Heh. When Art II s.4 says “conviction”, it means conviction by the Senate in an impeachment proceeding, not conviction in a criminal case as a condition precedent for commencing an impeachment proceeding. Also, the House begins impeachment proceedings, and only if the House votes to impeach does the Senate hold a trial and decide whether to convict. And we all know that the current House wouldn’t impeach Thomas if he raped an unborn baby on national TV.

  17. 17
    Corner Stone says:

    @electricbrotha

    I would like to commend the Twitterverse for using the Anthony Weiner debacle as a vehicle to draw more attention to Thomas Family corruption. At least one good thing rises from the ashes of Weiner’s downfall.

    Thank you for bringing this important point to the forefront.

  18. 18
    Alex S. says:

    @ Tonal Crow, 18:

    Ah, thanks, I’m learning

  19. 19
    Lolis says:

    Clarence Thomas and his wife do seem mentally ill. They are creepy.

  20. 20
    JPL says:

    This is the headline at Fox
    NYT Tries Trashing Clarence Thomas Ahead of Obamacare Ruling

    Fox news appears to be the only media that picked up the story. There are a few newspapers but it their blogs.

  21. 21
    Keith G says:

    I often hear liberal friends crow about the demographic trends that will bring a new era of progressivism to the land.

    Heh.

    We are one election away(2012) from Thomas, Alito, Scalia, and their friends at other levels of governance being able to impose their unique brand of plutocratic pillaging upon this once great land. Once done, it will take decades to undo – demographics be damned.

  22. 22
    Corner Stone says:

    @Keith G

    I often hear liberal friends crow about the demographic trends that will bring a new era of progressivism to the land.

    Keith G, are your liberal friends counting on the AA vote in future elections? Because it looks like maybe they should not be.

  23. 23
    kdaug says:

    Long arc bending. The torches come, rest while you can.

    (Yeah, it’s a re-link. Sue me. It’s worthy.)

  24. 24
    JPL says:

    Keith, It’s scary.

  25. 25
    ABL says:

    “punctilious” is one of the best words in the english language.

  26. 26
    ABL says:

    at least the subset of the wider public that bothers to vote might get a clearer picture of the people who support Citizens United.

    you mean people like Glenn Greenwald?

  27. 27
    fuzz says:

    we’re like Russia now, a nice corrupt political class, a bunch of oligarchs that are above the law running the economy, un-ending wars, a national security/intelligence apparatus that is absolutely huge and completely unaccountable to anyone, and the best part of all is that just like the Russians we don’t give a shit. If I didn’t live in the US I would actually want it to keep going to just to see how low we could sink.

  28. 28
    Keith G says:

    Corner, we all have been hearing about the coming wave of Hispanic voters that (assuming they vote at all) will break Democratic.

    My point being being, that if Democrats do not keep the White House and the Senate, this generation of conservatives will lock in policies, procedures and judges ideologically committed to derailing progressive action for more than a decade.

    Why is there no “Reply” button for Chrome?

  29. 29
    JPL says:

    Keith G.. The reply feature disappeared a few days ago. John is aware of the problem.

  30. 30

    clarence thomas needs to go,but i just don’t see it happening. the best hope is that he himself, of his own choosing says fuck it, but even then, it would be a prima donna move on his part, unrelated to any scandal.

    oh how seeing him get disbarred in missouri would be sweet, if meaningless.

  31. 31
    Roger Moore says:

    @Keith G:

    Why is there no “Reply” button for Chrome?

    The Reply button is broken. None of us have it, which is why there are so few nice reply doohickeys at the top of people’s posts.

  32. 32
    Veritas78 says:

    Agreed that Thomas is the likeliest landmine on the Court. Nurses grudges, into kink, not that bright, no code of ethics, clearly corruptible, and easily attracted to bright, shiny objects.

    In fact, he’s so pliable that I assume quite a few power players beyond Harlan Crow have him on their strings.

  33. 33
    Eric U. says:

    I keep hoping that Clarence Thomas will see the light and start voting for justice and in accordance to a sane reading of the constitution. However, then this scandal would blow up and he would be removed from office.

  34. 34
  35. 35
    Roger Moore says:

    @Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal:
    My dream scenario has Thomas dying of an “unsafe drop in blood pressure” during a gay tryst with somebody especially embarrassing. I know it ain’t going to happen, and I know I shouldn’t wish ill on others, but I can’t help it with somebody like him.

  36. 36
    Keith G says:

    Additionally let my add that what is so incidiously malevolent about the GOP agenda is that they know that their “wealth first, worker last” ideals will have tough times in the not too distant future. This is why they are working with such fevered ruthlessness ignoring precedent and changing the “rules” all over the country.

  37. 37
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Roger Moore:

    My dream scenario has Thomas dying of an “unsafe drop in blood pressure” during a gay tryst with somebody especially embarrassing.

    Scalia.

  38. 38
    Ed Marshall says:

    Abe Fortas resigned after doing something just about identical. If the Republicans hadn’t won that last election cycle he would be impeachable right now.

  39. 39
    Roger Moore says:

    @Ed Marshall:

    If the Republicans hadn’t won that last election cycle he would be impeachable right now.

    Impeachable, yes, but to what object? You need a 2/3 vote in the Senate for a conviction, and there’s no way you’d be able to get enough Republican votes to get there. To paraphrase an earlier comment, Thomas could rape and murder an infant on live TV and the Republicans would still back him to the hilt.

  40. 40
    BO_Bill says:

    I don’t think that a man has to disclose his wife’s financial dealings. She is not considered property under current laws, if my understanding is correct.

  41. 41

    @roger moore

    i would love for it to be more embarassing than that. i mean that still falls into merely being venal, and a hypocrite, and would damage anita hill in some way, or make her a target of backlash.

    although, if it were brietbart, or perhaps someone arranged for thomas by brietbart, underaged would be a nice touch, male or female, how about him shooting himself with an unlicensed firearm while in the act? and if his partner is female, of course there should be tapes of him urging her to have an abortion to save him embarassment.

    some or all of that.

  42. 42
    Ed Marshall says:

    @Roger Moore

    subpoena power, I think he would quit if anyone started digging into his affairs.

  43. 43
    Webster says:

    a lot of people do not know what “lynching” is. Lynching is when someone is killed by a unlawful mob using a rope. Pointing out that someone in high office is corrupt and/or massively incompetent is not a definition of lynching. please make a note of it.

  44. 44
    Jason Stokes says:

    Ahh, so that’s how he got his hand on the Douglass Bible. I always wondered how that grubby uncle tom could afford it. It was a bribecontribution by a generous benefactor.

  45. 45
    Yutsano says:

    I don’t think that a man has to disclose his wife’s financial dealings.

    That is why you fail.

    How long do you think Ginny and the Oligarchs would allow Thomas to stay on the court if her records get subpoenaed?

    He’s a bitter nasty old fuck with a gargantuan chip on his shoulder. If he gets accused of anything he’ll dig his heels in and fight everything while throwing as much static to his accusers as possible.

  46. 46
    Ed Marshall says:

    @Webster

    I think people are poking fun at Justice Thomas, who said “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.”

  47. 47
    kdaug says:

    No kids, so I reckon I ain’t got a dog in this fight. But I’m not buying “Uncle Sam’s A Dead Man Walking” just yet.

    Yeah, it’s fucked. But once in a while, there’s a spark just out of the corner of your eye.

    Can’t hang your hat on it, but it’s there.

  48. 48
    Tonal Crow says:

    @efgoldman: Damn! I thought everyone knew about Thomas’s “high tech lynching” whine.

  49. 49
    Maura Cavaleri says:

    I think that it is somewhat encouraging that if you google the NYT story, you also get more stories and blogs than I’ve ever seen on it. It’s not MSM yet but………. know hope?

  50. 50
    El Cid says:

    Why would any self-respecting news organization lower itself to the level of investigating any story not launched by Andrew Breitbart & minions?

    What would be the point of doing anything else? What other sources of controversy do you people need?

  51. 51
    rikyrah says:

    you know, it’s absolutely ridiculous

    it’s not just that he’s a brownnosing, self-hating ass kisser.

    he’s a literal sellout with a fucking pricetag on his head.

    disgusts me.

    he’s a literal SELLOUT.

  52. 52
    KCinDC says:

    Some legal-but-weird predilection that the left would live with, but that the mainstream right won’t be able to tolerate.

    Evolved Deep Southerner, what could it be that IOKIYAR wouldn’t apply to? The right will tolerate anything except being insufficiently “conservative” in your voting record.

  53. 53
    FlipYrWhig says:

    All my comments, disappearing into the Phantom Zone. Bah. The long and short of it: Douglass si, Thomas no.

  54. 54
    Anne Laurie says:

    My dream scenario has Thomas dying of an “unsafe drop in blood pressure” during a gay tryst with somebody especially embarrassing. I know it ain’t going to happen, and I know I shouldn’t wish ill on others, but I can’t help it with somebody like him.

    My bet would be on Chief Justice Roberts for that particular scenario. Of course plenty of conservaCatholic men are ‘not known to date much‘ until they get married in their mid-40s, and some of them are even straight, or so they insist. But Roberts is the Stealth Talibangelical of the current SCOTUS bench, and barring the answered prayers of a million non-Talibangelicals he’s going to be ‘leading’ for another half-century.

    I’d probably despise him just for the whole ‘buying white Irish newborns on the global marketplace’ thing, but if he weren’t the smug American brand of suburban Talibangelical he wouldn’t have been out there buying his family retail, either.

  55. 55
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Roger Moore:

    My dream scenario has Thomas dying of an “unsafe drop in blood pressure” during a gay tryst with somebody especially embarrassing.

    David Duke?

    There’s a line from one of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser potboilers, where it’s discovered that a radical black professor (loosely modeled on Cornel West, maybe) has been carrying on a decades-long gay affair with a notorious white supremacist. “I’m everything you hate, and you can’t stop fucking me!”

  56. 56
    pjcamp says:

    It is possible to impeach a Supreme Court justice. The Constitution pretty clearly puts Congress in charge of the SC.

    This has, however, only happened once, in the Jefferson administration, to Samuel Chase, who was acquitted.

    But he was basically charged with deciding cases based on unacceptable opinions. What Thomas is up to is borderline corruption. I have a low enough opinion of him to believe him capable of crossing that line at some point.

  57. 57
    John Puma says:

    If we get only “a clearer picture of the people who support Citizens United,” then we get nothing.

    That comment is reminiscent of Joanne Kloppenberger who suggested that the stolen Wisconsin supreme court race that she “lost” was “a wake-up call.”

  58. 58
    Joe Brown says:

    During the confirmation hearings for Uncle Thomas, before Long Dong Silver, there was a long ago forgotten line of questioning surrounding his belief in “natural law”. Uncle Thomas knows how he’s going to vote on every case before he hears any argument, and he clearly resents having to be there in court. It is this natural law that allows him to accept gifts from wealthy Teabaggers, hide his finances, profit monetarily from the court’s decisions, without recusing himself. Natural law, not tradition, not precedent, not the constitution, and certainly not a code of conduct, dictates the actions of Uncle Clarence Thomas.

  59. 59

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