52 House Dems Seek Thomas Impeachment Probe

Louise Slaughter

The movement to investigate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for impeachable offenses continues to gather momentum even as he thumbed his nose at critics in recent days by fund-raising for ultra-right critics and presiding over a celebration of his own heritage orchestrated by one of his billionaire financial supporters.

Antonin Scalia and Clarence ThomasNew York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, at left, a Democrat and the ranking member of the House Rules Committee, sent a follow-up letter Nov 18 to the U.S. Judicial Conference requesting that the Thomas failure to disclose required financial information be referred to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. This letter was signed by 52 House Democrats, compared to 20 who signed a similar letter in September.

Meanwhile, Thomas and fellow conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, portrayed above, were featured speakers at a fund-raiser by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal advocacy group seeking to shape court decision-making. The appearance of the lifetime appointees defied critics who point to judicial ethics restrictions on the appearance of impropriety. Separately, Thomas visited his birthplace of  Pin Point in Georgia to dedicate a museum in his honor founded with the financial support of Harlan Crow, a real estate tycoon who has been a major financial supporter of  the justice's wife, Virginia. Crow's money to help her found a consulting organization to take advantage of her husband's decisive vote in the 5-4 Citizens United ruling is part of the House Democrats' effort to obtain an impeachment investigation. Crow's affiliations include a board membership of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which for decades has advocated for political and policy changes in governance.

AEI and the Heritage foundation are further pushing traditional limits on partisan activity by co-sponsoring the Nov. 22 GOP Presidential debate, with the opportunity to provide questions for the candidates generated by their right-wing scholars "front-and-center." The Washington Post described such participation in Conflict for AEI and Heritage as new players? as "a new element" in such debates because think tanks are forbidden under tax laws from partisan activity.

Regarding Thomas, the House Democrats are keeping up the pressure for an impeachment probe. "The new details that have emerged show that Justice Thomas had a firm understanding of the steps necessary to properly disclose all information required by federal law," Slaughter wrote. "Knowing this, his failure to properly disclose financial information between 1997 and 2007 is even more curious. It is high time that the appropriate authorities fully investigate this issue to determine if his failure to disclose this information was willful." Also, Slaughter delivered a petition circulated by CREDO Action. It called for similar action, and had 131,386 signatures.says that Thomas correctly disclosed his wife's income for at least seven years before failing to disclose the same information between 1997-2007.

As often the case for prominent jurists, newspaper accounts soft-peddled any controversy. The Washington Post Supreme Court reporter touched on it lightly in a column Nov. 20, Clarence Thomas attends hometown museum dedication; source of funding for institution prompts questions.  The Savannah Morning News, the closest significant paper to Pinpoint and the hometown daily for the city where Thomas was reared after leaving Pinpoint at age six, avoided controversy entirely in, A monumental day at Pin Point.

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Listed here are excerpts of relevant columns
Washington Post, Health-care case brings fight over which Supreme Court justices should decide it, Robert Barnes, Nov. 27, 2011. Just a little more than an hour after some House Democrats recently demanded an inquiry into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s ethics, Senate Republicans stepped up the pressure on Justice Elena Kagan to take herself out of the court’s decision on the health-care reform act. The process repeated itself a few days later. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) called for the release of more documents about Kagan’s role as President Obama’s solicitor general; the liberal group People for the American Way came out with another broadside against Thomas.

Associated Press / Charlotte Observer.com, 2 justices face criticism in health care case, Mark Sherman,  Nov. 27, 2011. Conservative interest groups and Republican lawmakers want Justice Elena Kagan off a case that centers on the new health care law. Liberals and Democrats in Congress say it's Justice Clarence Thomas who should sit it out. Neither justice is budging - the right decision, according to many ethicists and legal experts. None of the parties in the case has asked the justices to excuse themselves. But underlying the calls on both sides is their belief that the conservative Thomas is a sure vote to strike down President Barack Obama's health care law and that the liberal Kagan is certain to uphold the main domestic achievement of the man who appointed her.

Washington Post, GOP debate: Conflict for AEI and Heritage as new players? Allen McDuffee, Nov. 22, 2011. Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate on foreign policy and national security will feature a new element: think tanks. “CSIS wouldn’t sponsor a presidential debate on foreign policy unless we could do one for Democrats and one for Republicans, or, one debate comprised of both parties,” said said H. Andrew Schwartz, CSIS senior vice president for external relations. “In the case of this election season you only have one party seeking to nominate a candidate with the other candidate sitting in the White House.”  And for some that issue is the crux of the problem: AEI and Heritage may have taken every possible step to make sure the debate is as fair as possible and even if they’ve succeeded, they are still co-sponsoring a debate designed to help Americans determine which Republican will attempt to defeat the sitting Democratic president, thereby making this a partisan event--a violation of their tax status.

Clarence Thomas

Savannah Now / Savannah Morning News, A monumental day at Pin Point, Chuck Mobley, Nov. 20, 2011. With a powerful and poignant mixture of preaching and preservation, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the community of Pin Point celebrated the unveiling of a historical marker and the dedication of a heritage museum Saturday. I am a son of Pin Point,” said Thomas, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1991.

Washington Post, Clarence Thomas attends hometown museum dedication; source of funding for institution prompts questions, Robert Barnes, Nov. 20, 2011. On a crisp morning, Thomas helped dedicate a Georgia historical marker noting the importance of Pin Point, where his birth and elevation to the Supreme Court was not the first accomplishment but simply the most recent. And then, with the rest of the crowd, he walked the 7/10s of a mile to the other end of a community too small to be called a town.  There, a whitewashed new Pin Point Heritage Museum has taken the place of the seafood cannery where his mother once worked while her baby rested in a crab basket. Its aim is to tell the rich story of the freed Sea Islands slaves who founded Pin Point, and to preserve what some historians say is the last piece of Georgia coastline still owned mostly by African Americans.  “Let us just savor this miracle,” Thomas said when it was his turn at the pulpit of his mother’s packed Sweetfield of Eden Baptist Church. “Pin Point has a chance to survive.”  Pin Point is the world into which Thomas was born, but the museum is owed to the world in which Thomas now lives. His friend Harlan Crow, a wealthy Dallas developer who also donates to conservative political causes, has spent millions of dollars on the project. Comment section.

Huffington Post, Clarence Thomas Assailed for Alleged Ethical Lapses by More House Dems, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) is turning up the heat on Justice Clarence Thomas based on new information that builds upon previous reports of his alleged ethical lapses. In late September, Slaughter had sent a letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States to request official action on Thomas' multi-year failure to disclose his wife's income from various conservative think tanks and activist organizations.The Judicial Conference is the principal policy-making and administrative body for the federal court system. On Friday, Slaughter submitted a new letter, this time addressed to Chief Justice John Roberts in his capacity as the presiding officer of the Judicial Conference, to update and clarify the September letter. Only 19 other members of Congress joined her September letter; Friday's letter had the support of another 51 members. At issue is the fact that Thomas repeatedly checked a box titled "none" on annual financial disclosure forms in response to a question about the sources of spousal income. Yet during those years, his wife, Virginia Thomas, worked for the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation and for the Tea Party lobbying group Liberty Central, which she helped found.  The first letter asserted that Thomas' non-disclosures persisted "[t]hroughout his entire tenure of the Supreme Court," which began in 1991. It was fair to infer from his "high level of legal training and experience," Slaughter wrote, that the justice's failure presented the type of "willful" behavior that federal law requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the Department of Justice for investigation.

Common Cause, Hours after considering challenges to health care reform, Supreme Court justices are honored at fundraiser sponsored by law firms representing reform opponents, Mary Boyle, Nov. 14, 2011. Hours after considering whether to hear challenges to national health care reform, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia were honored Thursday at a fundraiser sponsored in part by law firms engaged in the litigation. This is an apparent breach of ethical standards that apply to every other federal judge. That morning, all nine justices met to review appeals from lower federal courts. Their agenda included a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which the court announced today it would hear this term. A few hours later, Scalia and Thomas were honorees and speakers at an annual fundraising dinner for the Federalist Society, which describes itself as “conservatives and libertarians interested” in the law.

Justice Integrity Project, Cain's 'Lynching' Defense Problem...Thomas Lied, Andrew Kreig, Nov. 7, 2011. GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain describes himself as a victim of a "high-tech lynching" -- not a playboy chasing women on his staff, as four have claimed, most recently on Nov. 7. Cain’s “lynching” defense is modeled on the one his friend, Clarence Thomas, used so effectively in 1991 to deflect sexual harassment charges from Anita Hill and thereby win a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court. Cain's ad has helped him raise $1.2 million in the past week, he told CNN, and buttressed his support among conservatives. OpEd News, Cain's 'Lynching' Defense Problem...Clarence Thomas Lied, Andrew Kreig, Nov. 7, 2011.

Protect our Elections.org: Clarence and Virginia Thomas: Bought By Billionaires, Oct. 25, 2011. Virginia, Harlan, Clarence and David have been having a good laugh at our expense. How much longer will we let this go on? America’s citizens have had it with people in power who violate the law. That includes Clarence Thomas who has used his position as a Supreme Court Justice to flout the law and enrich himself, his wife and their cronies through corrupt backroom deals with billionaires Harlan Crow, and Charles and David Koch.

Mark Crispin Miller’s News From Underground, Clarence Thomas—perjurer, tax cheat, fanatic, party operative—has GOT TO GO, declares Judge Lillian McEwen (his former lover), Andrew Kreig Interview of Lillian McEwen, Oct. 26, 2011.

Justice Integrity Project, Thomas Must Resign, Says Former Judge, Lover, Andrew Kreig, Oct. 26, 2011. Author and former Senate Judiciary Committee counsel Lillian McEwen, whose memoir this year describes a five-year romantic relationship in the 1980s with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, delivers a lecture Oct. 26 calling for his resignation on grounds of corruption that is dangerous to the public.  “The mask he has worn for so long has slipped during the past 20 years to reveal dishonesty, greed, and abuse of the public trust,” she told me in an exclusive interview before her talk at the National Press Club. “Fueled by self-hatred and resentment, Justice Thomas has allowed himself to be purchased.” Shorter version with more reader comments: OpEd News, Thomas Must Resign, Says Former Judge, Lover, Andrew Kreig, Oct. 26, 2011.

Huffington Post, A Question of Integrity Hangs Over the U.S. Supreme Court, Nan Aron, Oct. 24, 2011. This is going to be a big year for the Supreme Court. This election cycle is going to remind everyone of the effects of its infamous Citizens United decision, as vast sums of corporate money flood the electoral system. The blockbuster healthcare case could be heard and decided right in the middle of the presidential campaign. Big cases are on the Court's docket that deal with civil liberties, personal privacy, consumer rights, the environment, the rights of citizens to use the courts to seek justice, and, of course, corporate power. Last week, protesters, including Princeton professor Dr. Cornell West, were arrested outside the Supreme Court, carrying signs saying "Human Need, Not Corporate Greed." At the same time, public faith in the Court as an institution is falling. Gallup reports that the Court's approval rating has plummeted to 46 percent, close to an all-time low.

John YooWall Street Journal, Twenty Years of Justice Thomas, John Yoo, left, Oct. 22, 2011. This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of Clarence Thomas's appointment to the Supreme Court. In his first two decades on the bench, Justice Thomas has established himself as the original Constitution's greatest defender against elite efforts at social engineering. His stances for limited government and individual freedom make him the left's lightning rod and the tea party's intellectual godfather. And he is only halfway through the 40 years he may sit on the high court.

OpEd News, Judging the Judge: Citizens Must Unite After 20 Years of Clarence Thomas, Andrew Kreig, Oct. 19, 2011. The Clarence Thomas era on the court began 20 years ago with a fraud upon the public at his White House "swearing in" and has expanded into ongoing infamy.

Reinbach Observer, The Case Against Clarence Thomas, Andrew Reinbach, Oct. 19, 2011. When is official Washington going to do more than talk about Clarence Thomas?  After all the issues raised this year about the Associate Justice–including apparent perjury on his financial disclosure forms, his intriguing connections to the Koch Brothers and to Harlan Crow, and apparent bribery–you’d think the Justice himself would be calling for an official investigation just to clear his name.  But no. Aside some elliptical references to the waters rising around him, Mr. Justice Thomas seems to think silence is his best bet.

Huffington Post, Democrats Ramp Up Calls For Ethics Probe Of Clarence Thomas, Jennifer Bendery, Oct. 5, 2011. House Democrats are ratcheting up the pressure for a formal investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for failing to disclose information relating to his wife's earnings -- as much as $1.6 million over the past 13 years -- on his annual financial disclosure forms. House Rules Committee ranking member Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), right, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) on Wednesday sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee calling for hearings "on the pattern of potential ethical lapses" by Thomas, who, after years of filing his financial forms properly, stopped disclosing his wife Ginny's employment status every year between 1997 and 2011. During that time, the letter states, his wife made at least $1.6 million, based on reports from outside groups.  "Public records clearly demonstrate that Justice Thomas has failed to accurately disclose information concerning the income and employment status of his wife, as required by law," reads the letter to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.). "In addition, news reports indicate that Justice Thomas may have also failed to report gifts from wealthy supporters and inappropriately solicited donations for favored non-profit organizations."

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