Conservative Supreme Court justices no longer bothering to avoid appearance of conflicts of interest

Clarence Thomas won't report his wife's income, Antonin Scalia gives Tea Partier Constitution lessons, no one cares

Topics: Supreme Court, War Room,

Conservative Supreme Court justices no longer bothering to avoid appearance of conflicts of interestAntonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas

So, Supreme Court Clarence Thomas neglected to report his wife Ginni’s income from a right-wing think tank. Or maybe “neglected” is the wrong word, because that sounds sort of benign or accidental. It’s more like he refused to do so, for years. Thomas’ wife is a longtime conservative activist, and she worked for the influential Heritage Foundation from 2003-2007. In his financial disclosure forms, under “spousal noninvestment income,” Clarence Thomas just checked the “no” box, every year.

Of course, everyone knows that Ginni Thomas is a partisan political activist who makes her living working for right-wing groups. So checking “no” in that little box every year is not just deceptive, it’s also pretty pointless. Unless you are simply against the idea of “disclosure” itself, on principle, as Thomas seems to be.

He will probably not be punished for this, by the way, because it’s extraordinarily difficult to “punish” Supreme Court members for anything.



This odd practice of routinely lying on forms was brought to light by the watchdog group Common Cause, who also recently wrote a letter to Eric Holder criticizing Thomas and Antonin Scalia for attending fancy Koch-sponsored functions before ruling, in Citizens United, that restrictions on corporate electioneering be lifted. Of course, neither Scalia nor Thomas believe that their personal and professional ties to the conservative movement should cause them to recuse themselves from politically sensitive cases. In fact, their attitude tends to be that everyone should just shut up and stop complaining about it. As Garrett Epps writes in The Atlantic, they — along with Republican fundraiser-attendee Samuel Alito — are openly flouting years of judicial etiquette. And they don’t really care. Scalia generally acts like he’d be much more at home on talk radio than in the Supreme Court. (Scalia’s Constitution lesson for Michele Bachmann and the incoming Tea Partiers was scheduled for today, by the way.)

Maybe the way to think about this without getting all upset is to just admire the refreshing honestly of a deeply, openly partisan Supreme Court. (Except that it’s basically partisan in one direction, because Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn’t fishing with Joe Biden.)

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>