Clarence Thomas exploits 'gaping hole' in ethics law to decide cases where his wife may have an interest: report

Clarence Thomas exploits 'gaping hole' in ethics law to decide cases where his wife may have an interest: report
Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court of the United States

On Monday, writing for The Washington Post, Michael Kranish explained the ethics law loophole that allows Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to ignore his own conflicts of interest — even those involving his right-wing activist wife.

"While the Supreme Court is supposed to operate under regulations guiding all federal judges, including a requirement that a justice 'shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned,' there’s no procedure to enforce that rule," wrote Kranish. "Each justice can decide whether to recuse, and there is no way to appeal a Supreme Court member’s failure to do so. Unlike in lower courts, there is no other judge that can step in, and thus a recusal by one justice would mean considering the case with only eight justices, increasing the chance it could not be resolved."

Thomas has taken advantage of this ability to police himself. He has recused himself 28 times while serving as a justice, mostly on petitions that weren't even heard by the Court — but has never recused himself on matters that intersect with the activism of his wife, Virginia Thomas, and one of the most recent examples involves the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

"Ginni Thomas’s name stood out among the signatories of a December letter from conservative leaders, which blasted the work of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection as 'overtly partisan political persecution,'" noted the report. Thomas went on to be the only justice who voted to grant a request by former President Donald Trump, who is accused of inciting the attack, to block release of White House records to the House committee investigating the matter. "That vote has reignited fury among Justice Thomas’s critics, who say it illustrates a gaping hole in the court’s rules: Justices essentially decide for themselves whether they have a conflict of interest, and Thomas has rarely made such a choice in his three decades on the court."

A recent report indicated that even Trump himself thought Ginni Thomas was a "wacko" — but kept silent about it as he unsuccessfully tried to push her husband off the bench to get another Supreme Court seat to replace.

You can read more here.


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