Tag Archives: SCOTUS

Not a ‘liberal’ vendetta

As I listen to congressional Republicans launch their counterattack in defense of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, I am struck by what I am not hearing from them.

I am not hearing GOP lawmakers actually defending Justice Thomas’s receiving of lavish gifts from a Texas billionaire. They aren’t justifying the fact that Thomas has refused to report those gifts to the court.

No. Instead they are questioning the motives of those who are reporting these hideous ethical lapses on the part of Justice Thomas. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, said liberals “hate” Justice Thomas and “will do anything” to undermine him.

Others have echoed the Cruz Missile. The likes of Sen. Josh “Clenched Fist” Hawley, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Mike Lee all have singled out the so-called “liberal media” for launching what they call a vendetta against the conservative justice.

Thomas has taken vacations aboard Harlan Crow’s luxurious yacht; he has allowed Crow to purchase his mother’s house and let her live in it rent free; he has paid for a grandnephew’s tuition at a high-end private school.

Think about this: What we have is a Supreme Court justice who is on the take.

C’mon, guys! This isn’t a “liberal media” campaign. It is the result of gumshoe reporting that has revealed the sad and maddening lack of ethical standards for the nine men and women who sit on the nation’s highest judicial panel.


Thomas’s ethics getting stickier

Is there no end in sight for the ways that Clarence Thomas can disgrace himself, the high office he occupies and the judicial system over which he presides?

The U.S. Supreme Court associate justice — the longest-tenured member of the nation’s highest court — is now reportedly the recipient of yet another lavish gift from a Texas billionaire who, that’s right, has business before the court.

Dallas financier Harlan Crow has been paying the tuition to a high-priced private school for Justice Thomas’s grandnephew, who he has raised as his son.

Oh, my. The hits just keep coming. Crow has treated Justice and Mrs. Thomas to trips on his private aircraft and yacht in exotic locations around the world. He has purchased a home for Thomas’s mother and allowed her to live in it rent free. Now we hear about the tuition payments for Thomas’s grandnephew.

I want to offer a bouquet of sorts to Justice Thomas, who has helped raise the young man. That’s a noble act and I don’t want to let that go unnoticed. However, such nobility should not be the stuff of potential graft from a rich pal … who befriended the justice only after he joined the Supreme Court in 1991.

What a coincidence, yes?

As we have noted here already, the nation’s highest court demands the courts lower on the judicial pecking order follow strict ethical guidelines. Yet it has none for its own nine members.

Are we left, then, to believe the Supreme Court is self-policing, that its justices are adhering to the letter and the spirit of ethical standards? I guess so … except that they aren’t doing anything of the sort.

What we have instead is a Supreme Court once held in high esteem by the public denigrating itself because some of its members — not just Justice Thomas — are flouting the standards they demand of others within the federal judiciary.

It is hypocritical in the extreme.


SCOTUS: above the law?

The irony is so rich you can slice and dice it, given the U.S. Supreme Court’s insistence that lower courts abide by strict ethics rules … but operates on its own without any such restriction.

We have three justices on the nation’s highest court who now have some serious — and possibly egregious — ethics troubles hanging over them.

They start with the chief justice, John Roberts and include Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. The Senate Judiciary Committee had invited Chief Justice Roberts to visit with the panel about those questions, but Roberts declined, citing judicial independence.


Roberts’s wife is a headhunter for law firms, earning millions of dollars annually. The firms for which she works routinely have business before her husband’s court. Conflict of interest? Looks like it to me.

Justice Gorsuch sold some property to a lawyer with another mega firm, which also does business with the court. More conflict? Umm, yep!

Justice Thomas has demonstrated a nearly legendary lapse of judgment. His wife is part of the Big Lie crowd, believing the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump; a Texas gazillionaire has lavished gifts on the Thomases and the justice has failed to report them; the rich Texan also has purchased the justice’s mother’s home and allows her to live there rent free. What do you think about that? Yeah … conflict of interest.

But the court has no rules governing this conduct. There are no restrictions or reporting requirements demanded of the men and women who serve on the court.

These men all have one thing else in common: they are Republican-nominated justices.

Why mention the partisan label? Well, consider something else. Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, was a partner in an international law firm. By the time VP Harris was sworn into office, Emhoff quit his job, surrendering millions of dollars in income. Why? Because there might be a hint of conflict. He chose the right path and is now teaching law at Georgetown University, earning a handsome salary, but which is significantly less than he would have earned had he stayed employed by the mega firm.

No one can fire any of the justices, or the vice president. The only way to remove them from office is to impeach them and then convict them in a congressional trial. The three men mentioned here have ignored any pretense of ethical conduct; the vice president and her husband have chosen a more correct option.

There must be an accounting for the individuals who serve on the nation’s highest court. For the chief justice to resist any calls for ethics reform is to betray the high office he occupies.


Just quit, Justice Thomas!

Your humble blogger — that’s me! — has used this forum to call for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign because of what I believe is a conflict of interest involving his wife’s involvement with The Big Lie movement and the 2020 presidential election.

I now want to offer a brief explanation as to why it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference on the high court.

The Supreme Court now comprises a 6 to 3 conservative majority. Thomas is one of the six; the others are Chief Justice John Roberts and associate justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

If Thomas left the court, it would still have a conservative majority, given that President Biden is likely to find a more, um, liberal judge to confirm to the court.

So, what’s the big deal? Justice Thomas no longer is able to serve on the court when his wife is actively involved in a matter involving the 2020 election, which keeps coming before the court on various rulings … which Thomas glaringly deviates from the majority by dissenting in favor of the 45th POTUS.

Then comes the news about Justice Thomas taking those lavish gifts from a billionaire Texan and refusing to report them, as he should have done. Good grief! Oh, and then the billionaire ends up buying a house for Thomas’s mother … and lets her live there rent-free!

Just resign, Justice Thomas.


Move over, Clarence Thomas …

Now we hear that Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch might be in a bit of a jam over ethical conduct.

What the … ?

First it was Justice Clarence Thomas, whose wife Ginni, got caught up in The Big Lie nonsense over the 2020 presidential election. She attended the rally in which Donald Trump urged the angry crowd to march on the Capitol and “take back” our country. It didn’t work out well. Then the justice cast the lone vote against a decision requiring the ex-POTUS to turn over documents to the National Archives. A connection? Hmm … looks like it to me.

Then came the Harlan Crow matter, with the Dallas zillionaire lavishing gifts on the Thomases, which the justice didn’t report.

Now comes Justice Gorsuch, who reportedly sold a $2 million piece of property to an executive with a mega-legal firm that does business with the court.

It all calls to question the lax ethical standards intended to govern the behavior of the nine men and women who serve on the nation’s highest court.

There needs to be an ethical standard for the nation’s highest court. Chief Justice John Roberts so far has refused to act. The Senate, which must confirm nominees to the federal bench, can do the right thing, if it can muster up the will. So far it has refused.

I daresay the nation’s founders are likely spinning in their graves over the politicization of the SCOTUS. They sought to remove the judiciary from the political arena. Their experiment has failed, sad to say.

The high court demands lower courts adhere to ethical standards. Yet it doesn’t have any such standards for its own justices to follow.

It’s a shameful (or shameless) dereliction of duty.


SCOTUS strikes blow for restraint

The U.S. Supreme Court, the panel with that conservative supermajority, has done what many of us didn’t expect from it.

The court stemmed a judicial rampage launched by a lower court judge in Amarillo, who ruled that a tried-and-proven pill used by women to end pregnancies no longer is suitable.

The SCOTUS allowed the use of the pill approved 20-plus years ago by the Food and Drug Administration for several more weeks while appeals play out.

Two justices voted in the minority: Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. There might have been more, but only those two let their dissents be known.

The federal judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, tossed judicial restraint out the window with his ruling against the drug. It is an ironic ruling, given conservative judges’ inherent dislike for what they call “judicial activism.”

The case now will go to the Fifth U.S. Circuit of Appeals, considered the most conservative appellate court in the federal system. I am going to hold out a glimmer of hope that the Fifth Circuit will follow the lead established by the Supreme Court and keep the drug in use.

Matthew Kacsmaryk, meanwhile, has breathed life into the upcoming political battle that well could determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress in 2024 … and whether they can reclaim the White House as well.

Public opinion is not on the GOP’s side in this brewing battle for reproductive rights.


Electoral consequences are, um, lasting

As if anyone needs reminding of the consequences of electing certain individuals to public office …

Still, I am going to offer this brief reminder.

Donald Trump, in just a single term as president, was able to get three individuals seated on the U.S. Supreme Court; the court now comprises what they call a conservative “supermajority.” The justices who sit on the court are likely to outlive their political benefactor by many years.

Lower courts, too, will bear the impact of the recent POTUS’s appointment powers. Witness the decision handed down in Amarillo by Matthew Kacsmaryk , a U.S. district judge who tossed out the abortion pill based seemingly on his own personal opposition to abortion. Trump nominated this individual to the district court bench, and the Senate confirmed him. Still, elections have consequences, yes?

This is the kind of decision voters need to ponder when they prepare to cast their ballots, either for governor or president.

Trump is just the latest in a long line of politicians with appointment power who — in my view — abused that power by appointing men and women who provide the correct answers to what they call “litmus test” questions. Trump vowed to appoint anti-abortion judges and he made good on that pledge.

Thus, we see the most indelible effect of the consequence of any presidential election.

What is so maddening about the federal judicial appointment process is how political it has become, which to my viewing is counter to what the founders envisioned when they granted federal judges lifetime seats on the bench. Their effort was to de-politicize the federal judiciary; instead, it appears to have become more politicized today than ever in our nation’s history.

But then again, when we realize the consequences we face when certain politicians get elected president, this is what we get.


Come clean, Mr. Justice … or else!

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should be in a world of hurt right now, but he isn’t. Not by a long shot.

Why? Because the court on which he has served since 1991 has no rules governing its members’ conduct.

Oh, my … that needs to change!

It has been revealed that Thomas accepted ritzy travel gifts from a rich Republican donor, Harlan Crow of Texas, without reporting them to authorities. Thomas  now says he was advised by others that he didn’t need to do such a thing and, of course, accepting such extravagant gifts did nothing to influence his rulings on political matters.

Democrats are outraged over these findings. They have good reason to be angry. They also are a bit dispirited because they have few legislative options in Congress available to them.

Thomas is a walking case of judicial hypocrisy. The high court demands that lower courts set strict ethical standards and requires them to enforce them strictly. The SCOTUS, though, is immune from such protection. Justices are free to flout the rules whenever they please. Clarence Thomas is the worst of the bunch.

He needs to be impeached by Congress and put on trial for his ethical transgressions. Will it happen? Hah! Hardly.

The man is a disgrace to the court and to the nation.


This ain’t Wal-Mart, Mr. Justice

Clarence Thomas once declared he is favors RVs and Wal-Mart parking lots over luxury vacation retreats.

He said he comes from “simple stock.”

Oh, really, Mr. Supreme Court Justice? How does he explain the luxurious vacations he and his wife, Ginni, took on the dime of a wealthy Republican donor? Well, he isn’t talking because the Supreme Court doesn’t have any ethics rules for justices to follow.

Justice Thomas is a hypocrite of the lowest order. He needs to be resign from the court. The House ought to impeach him. The Senate ought to try him and he ought to be removed from the court.

Recall, too, how Justice Thomas voted against rules sanctioning the 45th POTUS after it was revealed that Ginni Thomas is a vocal supporter of The Big Lie about the 2020 election, which she contends was “strolen” from the ex-POTUS.

Good grief! This baloney has got to stop.


SCOTUS needs ethics rules

Leadership by example is the best kind of leadership I can find among those in position to assume positions that enable them to call the cadence for others to follow.

Why, then, doesn’t the nation’s highest court have a code of ethics and a strong enforcement policy in case the men and women who serve on that court mess up?

The U.S. Supreme Court is being drawn into the proverbial crosshairs of those who believe the highest court in the nation is failing itself and the judicial system by not leading by example.

Justices on the court have engaged in some mighty nasty side hustles of late. My favorite, of course, is Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Ginni, being involved in the MAGA movement to overturn the 2020 presidential election. It coincides with Justice Thomas being the only member of the nine-justice court to demand that Donald Trump turn over his White House records to the Justice Department during its probe into the 1/6 insurrection.

Coincidence? I think not!

However, there is nothing on the books at the Supreme Court building that enables anyone to take any action against Justice Thomas. There must be some law enacted that compels the court to establish a code of ethics and then ensures that the court punishes its members when they violate that code.

I recently interviewed a candidate for the Farmersville City Council here in Collin County. I asked him to describe his leadership ability. He said he leads “by example,” that he “wouldn’t ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”

That kind of creed ought to apply to the Supreme Court. It decides on others’ ethics issues all the time. If they break the rules and their case ends up in front of the nine justices, then the court has the power to decide whether a defendant broke the ethics rules.

Furthermore, lower federal and state courts have ethics rules they demand that judges follow. When is it ever OK for the court that oversees those lower courts’ adherence to the rules to be free of following rules of its own?