Thomas Needs to Fess Up and Resign

Corporations Corruption Supreme Court

Pearl River      It turns out that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sold three pieces of property to his rich, donor buddy Harlan Crow, perhaps for more than they were worth.  They claim this was to be some kind of memorial to where Thomas had lived, but there’s been no progress on that, and, even if so, why would Thomas have tacked on a higher price rather than donating or holding onto the property until this alleged memorial actually happened?  In many ways, it’s neither here nor there, but the whole thing just smells to high heaven.

Further reports from ProPublica also indicate that some of these pricey resort visits, made by Thomas and bankrolled by Crow, coincided with access made available to big corporations.  Corporations in fact that had business before the court.  How is all of this anything other than influence peddling?  How is this not unethical?

The deeper we dig in this swamp, the muddier it gets.  Thomas claims he got advice about nondisclosure from another unnamed Justice on the court.  As it develops, there’s a whole list of Justices on both sides of the political divide who have been taking multiple trips, usually without any reporting or certainly not full reporting of the value of the trip, or who might have been buttonholing them while they were there.  The recently deceased arch-conservative Antonio Scalia sucked down more than 200 of these junkets.  The liberal justice Stephen Breyer was in the same league.  All of this starts to sound like a donor driven cabal with Supreme Court Justices running around the world on their dole with their hands out.  How gross is that?

The steps taken to address this mess so far don’t go far enough.  Good to have the same ethics reporting as other judges have, but those are meager compared to what elected members of Congress have to report.  A good example is the snafu recently involving Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez getting some free makeup and wearing a gown to a fundraiser, and having to apologize, repay, and blame a staffer for the oversight.  If she had been on the Court, she would have likely gotten to own the dress, the car that drove her to the Met gala, and a truck load of other goodies to boot, and none would have been the wiser.

The Times called for a court investigation and an investigation by Congress of these ethical lapses.  The real deal should be that we’re reading that Thomas has done the right thing for the court and its reputation and resigned with a warning to his brothers and sisters that they should walk the plank as well, if they don’t get straight.  The fact that the rich have rigged the court tells Americans that the fix is in.  Not a good look, and, worse, it just confirms what a lot of us already believed to be the truth.