Thomas Must Resign, Says Former Judge, Lover

 

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, will deliver 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 at 7 p.m. (ET). “Fueled by self-hatred and resentment, Justice Thomas has allowed himself to be purchased.”

Update with my video interview: Clarence Thomas—perjurer, tax cheat, fanatic, party operative—has GOT TO GO, declares Judge Lillian McEwen (his former lover).

Her comments come during widespread concern among court scholars over its ethics, partisanship and the adverse impact on the public. "The Supreme Court," says the cover of the widely respected Closed Chambers analysis by former court clerk Edward Lazarus, "affects the life of every American every day." Part of the concern has been visible in many retrospectives this month on the 20th anniversary of the Thomas confirmation hearings before the Judiciary Committee, in which he denied sexually harassing his former staffer Anita Hill. But, as reflected below, the criticism recently has gone far beyond Thomas to reflect dismay about an unaccountable judiciary. Some on the bench accept money and gifts from those with interests before the courts and, recently in the case of Thomas, brag that they do not need to follow precedent if they want to change the law.

"This is going to be a big year for the Supreme Court," says Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron, whose group fought the Thomas nomination and, as described in a new column here, A Question of Integrity Hangs Over the U.S. Supreme Court, is launching a documentary next Tuesday portraying the court's failings. "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."

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Education Privatization Distorts News Coverage

Andrew KreigThe Washington Post's reluctance to cover many important stories involving legal reform is an important obstacle for those engaged in such work. So we excerpt below two revealing columns illustrating how the paper's leading revenue source -- profits from the education industry -- creates perverse financial incentives for what most readers assume is the paper's goal, selling newspapers. In fact, the paper is only partly engaged in what a Supreme Court justice once evocatively called "The marketplace of ideas." Instead the paper's quarterly reports indicate that it receives about 4 percent of its revenue from newspaper circulation. At least 60 percent of revenue typically comes to the Post from its Kaplan subsidiary, which provides a wide array of education services in K-12, college and post-college sectors. But a significant portion is funded by controversial government programs for which the Post (through its revenue-dominate affiliate) must lobby officials.

Excerpted below is a Salon column by Alex Pareene about the Post's involvement in the nation's looming student debt crisis: The $1 Trillion Student Loan Rip-Off: How an Entire Generation Was Tricked into Taking on Crushing Debt That Just Enriches Banks. This larger picture is illustrated also by a recent Huffington Post column by Chris Kirkham, With Goldman's Foray Into Higher Education, A Predatory Pursuit Of Students And Revenues. But other parts of our news round-up today include column excerpts show a happier tale: How the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey's largest newspaper, is finally grasping the dangers of political prosecutions that we've been reporting for more than two years.

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Citizens Must Unite After 20 Clarence Thomas Years

 

On Oct. 18 this week, the nation reached an important symbolic moment for the Clarence Thomas era on the Supreme Court. That Thomas Swearing Inwas the date 20 years ago for his swearing-in ceremony, portrayed at right in a White House photo showing the associate justice and his wife, Virginia, with Associate Justice Byron White administering the oath of office.

But the scene was pure hokum. The Bush White House designed it to quiet Thomas critics ASAP after the 52-48 Senate confirmation on Oct. 15 -- and to allow his backers to celebrate his lifetime appointment in grand style.

In sum, this was stage-craft to fool the public about our most respected branch of government at one of its most solemn transitional landmarks. The real ceremony was a tiny one in private on Oct. 23. Chief Justice William Rehnquist administered the oath after he pulled himself together following his wife's then-recent death. Thomas acknowledged this chronology in his 2007 autobiography, and other biographers confirm it.

Thus, the Thomas era on the court began with a fraud upon the public and has expanded into ongoing infamy.

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N.J. Defendant Slams Gov. Christie, Obama DOJ

Louis ManzoA former New Jersey assemblyman defending himself on corruption charges filed on Oct. 18 a wide-ranging brief alleging selective prosecution in the 2009 case that helped propel Chris Christie to his state's governor's mansion. Louis Manzo, left, requested also that courts vacate his most recent charges as vindictive or help enable a special prosChris Christieecutor.

Manzo, who has emerged as one of the nation's most important critics of prosecutors among defendants, filed an unusually comprehensive set of filings, listed below, seeking the removal of Obama-appointed U.S. attorney Paul Fishman. Manzo, a Democrat, says Fishman has continued what Manzo calls called the corrupt law enforcement practices intitiated by Christie, right. Christie was the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for New Jersey, resigning at the end of 2008 to begin his campaign for governor. Christie, Fishman and their teams have responded that they have acted appropriately.

Manzo's filing alleges that a Christie-initiated "sting" against 46 defendants in 2009 targeted only one Republican office-holder, and even that defendant was not running for re-election. Manzo said the sweep largely ignored evidence that Solomon Dwek, the federal government's chief witness in the sting, had been bribing Republican officials in Monmouth County. In a leniency deal initiated by Christie and continued by his successors, the government has arranged for Dwek to receive five-figure monthly living expenses from victims of his $50 million bank fraud if he would help prosecutors develop cases by using government funds to donate to local candidates in circumstances suggesting bribery. One was Manzo, who argues he didn't take a bribe, and that the entire process was unfair and an insult to taxpayers and voters.

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Court Coverage Probed: News Round-up

Andrew KreigThe Washington Post's Oct. 17 print edition vividly displayed a major newspaper's conflicting roles in interpreting news from a bottom-up reader perspective (the ostensible mission) and the alternative, more lucrative model: Apologist for entrenched powers. Let's explore this inherent conflict as we launch today our bimonthly news round-up in a new format.

The Post adopted the laudable role of "inquiring reporter" in a local section front-page story entitled, Delays of Evidence Scrutinized. Reporter Keith Alexander examined how "a prosecutor’s mistake in failing to reveal key information about government witnesses and what they knew" imprisoned a 17-year-old murder suspect for six years. The reporter tied the prosecution "mistake" to a more systemic abuse that our Justice Integrity Project has probed also: "Defense lawyers have long complained that some prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office hamper their investigations by withholding evidence or keeping it until the last minute."

In the same edition, the paper's Supreme Court correspondent, Robert Barnes, reported a new Gallup poll and other evidence showing a rapid decline in public respect for the court. In Enjoying basic loyalty, despite dip in popularity, he wrote, "Gallup has announced that only 46 percent of Americans approve of the institution, a drop of 5 percentage points in the past year and 15 points in the past two years." But Barnes devoted nearly half of his space to James Gibson, a political scientist who downplayed the significance of the public's criticism.

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Trial Delayed for Accused CIA Source on Iran for NY Times

Leon PanettaFormer CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling's trial scheduled to begin Oct. 17 on charges of divulging classified information has been postponed indefinitely. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema delayed trial after prosecutors appealed her ruling voiding two prosecution witnesses. The legal dispute's details are confidential. Sterling argues that he is a victim of selective prosecution. He is suspected of disclosing details of confidential CIA operations involving Iran to New York Times reporter and author James Risen in advance of Risen's 2006 best-seller, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.

As part of the Obama' administration's crack-down on whistleblowers expanding on Bush efforts, it obtained Sterling's indictment in 2010 when Leon Panetta, left, was CIA director before he became Secretary of Defense this year.

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