Tag Archives: Clarence Thomas

Impeach the justice!

Here’s a thought for you to ponder. It doesn’t come from me exclusively, but I read about it and have embraced it as a potential game-changer for the American judicial system.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas could be impeached by Congress because of his wife’s right-wing activism and the justice’s refusal to recuse himself from cases in which she is involved directly.

Ginni Thomas is a right-wing zealot. She has written scathing essays excoriating the 1/6 House committee examining the insurrection that sought to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

She and her hubby talk openly with each other about their jobs and their duties. So, how in the world does Justice Thomas vote on matters involving Ginni Thomas’s political activism?

Case in point: The court voted recently 8-1 to require Donald Trump to turn over documents to the House select committee looking into Trump’s role in inciting the riot. The lone dissent? It came from Clarence Thomas.

Good grief, man. Justice Thomas has no business sitting in on arguments involving anything regarding this issue. His wife has disqualified him in the eyes of many millions of Americans, including mine.

https://newrepublic.com/article/165118/clarence-thomas-impeachment-case-democrats

Michael Tomasky, editor of The New Republic, makes the case that Clarence Thomas is ripe for an impeachment action. What’s more, there needs to be ethical rules set up to govern the Supreme Court, the only court in America that doesn’t have any such regulatory authority watching over its conduct.

I happen to agree with him, that Clarence Thomas has disgraced himself and the nation’s highest court.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Conflict of interest … anyone?

What am I missing here? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone dissenting vote on the high court that decided the National Archives must release hundreds of pages from Donald Trump’s files to the House select committee investigating the 1/6 insurrection.

Hmm. I thought about that dissent. I wasn’t surprised, given Justice Thomas’s rigid right-wing credentials.

Oh, but wait! Then came this bit of news. Ginni Thomas, the wife of the justice, is an ardent political activist who rails constantly against the 2020 presidential election. She is known to be a fervent supporter of the disgraced, twice-impeached former president. She just recently launched into a scathing attack on the 1/6 committee, challenging its legitimacy and its authority to look where it is looking.

So, then comes the decision from the highest court in the land. All the other justices, conservatives and liberals — including the three people nominated by Donald Trump — voted to require the documents to end up in the committee’s files.

Justice Thomas was the lone dissent. Is there a conflict of interest that the justice is ignoring?

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

2020 could produce The (Actual) Year of the Woman

The Year of the Woman was thought to be 1992.

Clarence Thomas had to fend off allegations of sexual harassment from Anita Hill at his U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings. The controversy produced an outcry from those who said Hill was treated badly by the all-male U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

So the next presidential election was thought to produce an electoral backlash against President Bush, who lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton.

Here we are now, 27 years later and we’re going to see another Year of the Woman. Indeed, more women than men so far have announced their candidacies for president of the United States. Why do you suppose is bringing out all these women who want to succeed Donald Trump as president?

Gosh, it might be that Trump has denigrated women since the moment he announced his presidential candidacy in 2015. It might be the way he has acknowledged how his status as a “celebrity” and a “star” allowed him to grab women by their genital area.

The plethora of female candidates for POTUS might be a result of the #MeToo movement that has brought serious national attention to the way women have been dismissed and disrespected — and sexually assaulted — by men in power.

The Year of the Woman in 1992 was a preliminary event to what well might be the main event coming up in 2020.

Biden deserves the high praise

A question came to me after my post about Vice President Joe Biden receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction today from President Barack Obama.

It came from a reader of this blog who asks, simply: “What were Vice President Biden’s accomplishments?” The reader recalled when Biden in 1991 chaired the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that decided whether to recommend Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. He called Biden a “duplicitous blowhard.”

My sense, though, that Biden brought a kind of maturity to Barack Obama’s inner circle. He brought decades — three decades’ worth — of Senate experience; moreover, he brought several years, before his election to the Senate in 1972, of public service in Delaware.

Was there a signature achievement? Did the vice president author a policy or a strategy that the president followed? Was Joe Biden singularly responsible for a public policy decision?

I don’t believe he was successful in an outwardly visible way that the public would recognize.

I’ll accept the president’s accolades as a testament to the guidance and wise — and private — counsel that the vice president gave him during the tough times.

The gentleman who asked the question likely knows all of this. He did ask it, though, and I believe it’s worth sharing a brief response here to others who read these musings.

I suspect a lot of Americans perhaps are wondering the same thing about what Joe Biden accomplished during his eight years as vice president. We might not see it with our own eyes, but the man with whom he served in the White House surely did.

That’s good enough for me.

Liberals should heed advice from one of their own

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Nicholas Kristof makes no apologies for being a liberal thinker.

Nor should he. The New York Times columnist, though, offers a serious word of caution to his fellow liberals and progressives: If you mean what you say about demanding diversity in all aspects of contemporary life, then do not shut out those ideas with which you disagree.

Kristof’s essay in the Sunday New York Times echoes a recurring theme on which he has written before.

He chides universities and colleges for becoming echo chambers, for demonstrating unwillingness to hear thoughts expressed by those on the right, even the far right.

He says this about his fellow liberals: “We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us — so long as they think like us.”

Ouch, man!

He’s correct. We see this played out on occasion when universities invite noted conservatives to speak on their campuses. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been victimized by outrage expressed by liberal faculty members and student body officers; so has Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration.

Even here in the Texas Panhandle, when one-time Bush presidential strategist Karl Rove was invited a few years ago to deliver a speech at a West Texas A&M University graduation event, you’d have thought WT had invited the spawn of Satan himself, based on some of the reaction.

Kristof has delivered a sound message for all his fellow liberals to heed. If you truly want diversity of thought and opinion, then open your own eyes, ears … and minds.

As Kristof writes: “It’s ineffably sad that today ‘that’s academic’ often means ‘that’s irrelevant.’ One step to correcting that is for us liberals to embrace the diversity we supposedly champion.”

Amen, brother.

If only the VP hadn’t said what he said …

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Vice President Joe Biden delivered a stern message today to some university students and faculty members

about the obstruction occurring in the U.S. Senate.

It’s threatening the core of our republic, he said. Senate Republicans must not obstruct President Obama’s effort to fill a Supreme Court vacancy; they must allow nominee Merrick Garland to have a hearing, then they must debate the merits of his nomination and they must then vote on it.

True enough, Mr. Vice President.

But what about those remarks you made in 1992 about whether President George H.W. Bush should be able to nominate someone to the high court in an election year? Today’s Republicans are seeking to block Obama’s pick because this, too, is an election year and they want the next president to make the selection.

The GOP has beaten the vice president over his remarks then.

What they don’t say is that Biden also declared that he would support a “consensus candidate” in an election if one were to be presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Biden chaired at the time.

Biden told the Georgetown law students and faculty members: “Dysfunction and partisanship are bad enough on Capitol Hill. But we can’t let the Senate spread that dysfunction to another branch of government, to the Supreme Court of the United States.”

It’s fascinating to me that then-Sen. Biden’s remarks now have become known as the “Biden Rule,” which has never existed.

I won’t defend Biden for making his remarks in 1992. He was wrong to suggest that a sitting president shouldn’t be allowed to perform his job if he had been given the chance to do so. President Bush did select a Supreme Court justice in 1991, when he nominated Clarence Thomas to take the seat vacated by the death of Thurgood Marshall.

However, I won’t condemn Biden for holding that view. He did, after all, add the caveat that he would support a consensus candidate for the Supreme Court.

The here and now stands on its own.

The vice president is correct to insist that today’s Senate should stop its obstruction and allow the president to fulfill his constitutional duty — and do its own duty to give an eminently qualified nominee the fair hearing he deserves.

 

Act on the president’s court nominee

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I remain strongly in support of presidential prerogative.

It’s been one of my core beliefs ever since I started thinking seriously about policy, politics and government.

When I read stories over the past few days about how Senate Republicans plan to block President Obama’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court — before even knowing who it is — it sends me into deep orbit.

The GOP is digging in. So is the White House.

In my view, the president’s constitutional authority should override the Senate’s role in this decision.

I’ll reiterate here something I hope hasn’t been lost on those who read this blog. My belief in presidential prerogative crosses party lines. This isn’t a partisan issue with me.

In 1991, Republican President George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the high court to replace Justice Thurgood Marshall. I stood behind the president on that pick while working for a newspaper in Beaumont. Did the president overstate Thomas’s qualifications for the court by calling the “most qualified man” he could find? Yes, he did.

But that was his call to make. George H.W. Bush was our president, who had been elected decisively in 1988. He earned the right to select someone with whom he felt comfortable. As for the allegations of sexual harassment that arose late in the confirmation process, well, I didn’t buy entirely into what was being alleged.

Four years earlier, President Ronald Reagan selected Robert Bork to the court. Was he the kind of jurist I would have picked? Heavens no! But that wasn’t my call to make. It belonged to the president. The Senate saw it differently and rejected Bork’s nomination to the court — despite Bork’s well-known brilliance and knowledge of constitutional law — on grounds that he would fundamentally reshape the direction of the Constitution.

The process worked as it was intended, even though I believed then as well in the principle of presidential prerogative.

Barack Obama is equally entitled — just as any of his predecessors have been — to put someone forward to sit on the nation’s highest judicial authority. The death of conservative icon Antonin Scalia has shocked us all. The court won’t stop functioning with only eight justices.

The larger problem, though, might lie in the Senate, where Democrats are vowing revenge if Republicans follow through with their threat to block the president’s court nominee from even getting a hearing.

The Senate could shut down. Government could stop. The upper congressional chamber could become a logjam of legislation approved by the House, which cannot become law over a dispute that Senate Republicans will have started.

For what purpose? To deny the president of the “other party” a chance to fulfill his constitutional duty, to which a majority of Americans entrusted to him twice with their votes.

Republicans want to wait for the next president to take office. They are gambling that the 45th president will be one of their own. It’s a risky gamble, though, that threatens to stymie everything else that their own constituents elected them to do — which is to govern.

Debate produces a memorable sound bite

Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont,, left, and Hillary Rodham Clinton laugh during the CNN Democratic presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Hillary Clinton can take ownership now of perhaps the second of three memorable sound bites that have stuck with some us over many years.

Last night the Democratic presidential candidate referred to the attacks leveled against her by primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders as an “artful smear.”

Bingo, Madame Secretary.

That will go down in history right along with another one of her gems, when she referred to the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that concocted the sex-related scandals that enveloped her husband during his time as president of the United States.

The third memorable sound bite comes from a federal judge who was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to join the U.S. Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas famously referred during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing to allegations of sexual harassment as a “high-tech lynching.”

There you have it. There well could be more, but those jump out at me.

Those, in my mind, are the Big Three of sound bites relating to scandals and/or controversies.

The debate between Clinton and Sanders, though, did prove edifying, educational and at times entertaining.

It also was memorable now for what is certain to become a sound bite that will live forever.

 

 

 

Let’s just call him ‘Silent Clarence’

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I actually thought it had been longer than a mere decade since Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had asked a question during oral arguments before the nation’s highest court.

Nope. It’s only been 10 years.

The New York Times article attached here spells out what Justice Thomas has settled on as his reason for remaining silent.

It’s discourteous, he told the Times.

Discourteous? You mean if a lawyer says something that you believe needs clarification, but none of your court colleagues wants to seek some clarity, that you don’t want to be rude by asking the lawyer a question?

I don’t quite get that.

On second thought, it makes no sense at all.

Justice Thomas was President George H.W. Bush’s pick in 1991 to serve on the court. He succeeded perhaps one of the most argumentative men ever to serve there, the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, who earned his Supreme Court spurs by arguing successfully before the court on the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision that ended desegregation in public schools.

President Lyndon Johnson made history by appointing Marshall to the court in 1967, making him the first African-American to serve there.

Justice Thomas is a decidedly different type of high court jurist, both in judicial philosophy and temperament, apparently, than the man he succeeded.

I believe President Bush offered a serious overestimation of Clarence Thomas when he called him the “most qualified man” to sit on the high court.

That said, Thomas has been true to his conservative principles over the past quarter century.

As for the next time he asks a question of a lawyer, you can be sure the media will make a big deal of it.

 

Will these justices stay away from SOTU?

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Do you ever hear something from someone and think, “Damn! I wish I’d have thought of that”?

That happened to me today.

One of my Facebook pals wondered out loud if the only mystery surrounding President Obama’s upcoming State of the Union speech would be whether the three most conservative members of the Supreme Court would stay away, as they have done in recent years.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia all have been absent during Obama’s recent speeches before a joint session of Congress.

I’ve long wondered — as have others –whether it is because they detest the president’s politics so much that they’d rather do something else than sit in front of him while he makes policy statement with which they disagree?

Look, gentlemen, this is the last one of these speeches Barack Obama will give as president of the United States. Surely you can find the time — not to mention the courtesy — to attend this speech along with the rest of your colleagues. Chief Justice John Roberts usually attends, and he’s in the conservative camp right along with the three no-show justices.

It might have been a single event that ticked them off. That would be the time that Obama scolded the court for its Citizens United ruling that took the limits off of corporations and enabled them to give unlimited amounts of money to political candidates. Justice Alito was seen mouthing the words “not true” when the president made his critical comments.

That was then. If the scolding is the reason, well, get over it, will you?

The president is entering his final full year in office. The Joint Chiefs of Staff will be there. Most of the Cabinet will be there; custom calls for one of them to stay away in case something catastrophic happens at the nation’s Capitol Building.

I hope all nine justices see fit to make an appearance. They don’t have to applaud. Just be there.