8 Reasons Justice Clarence Thomas Must Step Down
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3. Soliciting donations? Unanswered questions: The Times revealed that it was Thomas himself who suggested that Algernon Varn, owner of the Pin Point Cannery (where Thomas' mother once worked), hit up the justice's good friend, Harlan Crow. Varn told Times reporter Mike McIntire:
“And Clarence said, ‘Well, I’ve got a friend I’m going to put you in touch with,’ ” Mr. Varn recalled, adding that he was later told by others not to identify the friend.
The land was subsequently purchased from Varn, to the tune of $1.5 million, by a real estate partnership run by Crow. If Thomas felt no compunction at sending Varn to seek backing, with his imprimatur, from Crow for what may have amounted, according to the Times, to $2.8 million in land and construction costs, it is not unreasonable to suspect it was Thomas' influence that compelled Crow to donate $500,000 to Ginni Thomas' organization. Clarence Thomas refused to answer questions submitted by the Times.
4. Calls for insurrection: If Crow's half-million-dollar donation to Ginni Thomas' Liberty Central were not troubling enough, there's Liberty Central itself. As AlterNet reported, at its inception Liberty Central was linked to two groups -- the Missouri Sovereignty Project and Gun Owners of America -- whose leaders called for the making of war on the U.S. government, and one, Tradition Family and Property, whose leader called the Spanish Inquisition "a beautiful thing." Each of these groups were listed on the Liberty Central Web site as "Friends of Liberty Central." Liberty Central officials refused to comment on whether or not the groups had paid a fee or donation to Liberty Central in order to earn the listing.
If a justice of the Supreme Court solicited a donation for a group whose success not only would benefit the justice's own household, but is also linked to groups that called for war on the government whose constitution the justice is sworn to uphold, that should be enough to warrant his stepping down. (In the wake of controversy over Ginni Thomas' role at Liberty Central, she stepped down and Liberty Central merged with the Patrick Henry Center. Ginni Thomas then opened a lobbying shop called Liberty Consulting, run from the same address as Liberty Central -- an address that turns out to be a mailbox in a UPS store, according to this video by Brad Blog.)
5. Conflict of interest - health-care reform: No sooner had the Affordable Care Act -- the health-care reform law that set off the Obama administration's battle royal with the American right -- passed into law than it became apparent that challenges to the law launched by Republican state attorneys general would likely make their way before the Supreme Court. Liberty Central opposed the bill, and appeared at a Tea Party rally sponsored by FreedomWorks calling for its repeal.
It's one thing for the spouse of a justice to be politically active on issues that may appear before the court, but quite another for a justice to solicit donations, whether implicitly or explicitly, for an organization headed by his spouse that advocates for cases that could appear before the court. At the very least, Clarence Thomas needs to account for his role in securing Liberty Central's $500,000 in start-up money from Crow.
6. Conflict of interest - Koch Industries fundraiser: In January 2008, Clarence Thomas addressed a fundraising gathering convened in Palm Springs, California, by Koch Industries, the privately held conglomerate helmed by Charles and David Koch, for major backers of the Tea Party movement and right-wing think tanks, including the Heritage foundation, for which Ginni Thomas worked for a number of years. Although, according to the New York Times, a court spokesperson described Thomas' appearance as "a brief drop-by," Thomas' own financial disclosure forms claim reimbursement for an undisclosed sum by the Federalist Society -- an organization that receives Koch funding -- for four days at Palm Springs.