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House Democrats say Justice Thomas should recuse himself in health-care case


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#1 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:34 PM

Posted at 12:21 PM ET, 02/ 9/2011 House Democrats say Justice Thomas should recuse himself in health-care case


By Felicia Sonmez
Seventy-four House Democrats have signed a letter to Clarence Thomas asking the Supreme Court justice to recuse himself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of the national health care overhaul, arguing that his wife's work as a lobbyist creates "the appearance of a conflict of interest."
The move is the latest indication that the court battle over the health-care law's constitutionality -- which is expected to be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court -- has already become a political tit-for-tat.
"The appearance of a conflict of interest merits recusal under federal law," the House Democrats wrote. "From what we have already seen, the line between your impartiality and you and your wife's financial stake in the overturn of health-care reform is blurred. Your spouse is advertising herself as a lobbyist who has 'experience and connections' and appeals to clients who want a particular decision -- they want to overturn health-care reform. Moreover, your failure to disclose Ginny Thomas's receipt of $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent opponent of health-care reform, between 2003 and 2007 has raised great concern."
The House Democrats' letter follows a suggestion made by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) last week that Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan should recuse herself from any consideration of the health care law's constitutionality because of her previous position as U.S. Solicitor General.
"I think that Kagan, who was the solicitor general at the time this was all done, probably should recuse herself, which means it might not be resolved by the Supreme Court," Hatch told Fox News last week. "That means the lower court decision will be the acting law."

Here is the full text of the Democrats' letter:

The Honorable Justice Clarence Thomas
United States Supreme Court Building
1 First Street Northeast
Washington D.C., DC 20543
Dear Justice Thomas:
As an Associate Justice, you are entrusted with the responsibility to exercise the highest degree of discretion and impartiality when deciding a case. As Members of Congress, we were surprised by recent revelations of your financial ties to leading organizations dedicated to lobbying against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We write today to respectfully ask that you maintain the integrity of this court and recuse yourself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of this act.
The appearance of a conflict of interest merits recusal under federal law. From what we have already seen, the line between your impartiality and you and your wife's financial stake in the overturn of healthcare reform is blurred. Your spouse is advertising herself as a lobbyist who has "experience and connections" and appeals to clients who want a particular decision - they want to overturn health care reform. Moreover, your failure to disclose Ginny Thomas's receipt of $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent opponent of healthcare reform, between 2003 and 2007 has raised great concern.
This is not the first case where your impartiality was in question. As Common Cause points out, you "participated in secretive political strategy sessions, perhaps while the case was pending, with corporate leaders whose political aims were advanced by the [5-4] decision" on the Citizens United case. Your spouse also received an undisclosed salary paid for by undisclosed donors as CEO of Liberty Central, a 501©(4) organization that stood to benefit from the decision and played an active role in the 2010 elections.
Given these facts, there is a strong conflict between the Thomas household's financial gain through your spouse's activities and your role as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. We urge you to recuse yourself from this case. If the US Supreme Court's decision is to be viewed as legitimate by the American people, this is the only correct path.
We appreciate your thoughtful consideration of this request.
Sincerely,
ANTHONY D. WEINER
Member of Congress

#2 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:39 PM

By the way, the lightly publicized scandal about Justice Thomas non-disclosures.... There should be impeachment hearings about it. On the face of it, the "rule of law" people should be clamoring for his impeachment and removal. Of course, without a full investigation and a chance to fully defend himself, I can only say it appears very bad.

#3 Royal

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:40 PM

man Thomas got slammed by A. Weiner. :lmao:

#4 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:40 PM

tl;dr

#5 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:41 PM

man Thomas got slammed by A. Weiner. :lmao:

:wink:

#6 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:42 PM

tl;dr

a whole 6 paragraphs? :lol: Not sure I believe ya ;)

#7 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:43 PM

The damn thing was dry, trite and repetitive. :funny1:

#8 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:44 PM

The damn thing was dry, trite and repetitive. :funny1:

and over 2 hours long?

So yes, you did read this. KANG'd :v:

#9 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:45 PM

:funny1:


(((DD)))

#10 halfstar

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:47 PM

tl;dr

#11 mule64

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:51 PM

Elena Kagan should recuse herself also as she worked on the health care bill while she was solicitor general.

#12 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:54 PM

summary for halfstar:
74 House Democrats have asked Justice Thomas to " recuse yourself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of" Obamacare as the Justice's wife is getting paid huge sums of cash to lobby for clients working to repeal Obamacare. The letter notes Justice's Thomas non-disclosure of his wife's income form lobbying , which he was clearly required to.

#13 halfstar

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 10:02 PM

So Mr. Thomas is qualified to interpret the Constitution as a member of the Supreme Court, but not able to put personal interests aside? Seems like there are bigger problems there than just health care.

:rolleyes:

#14 Joker

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 10:03 PM

Elena Kagan should recuse herself also as she worked on the health care bill while she was solicitor general.

If she played any role in helping to defend the healthcare bill she most certainly should.

I can't see anyone honestly arguing that she shouldn't.

#15 MeOmYo

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 10:04 PM

:rolleyes:


this has nothing to do with his abilities or qualifications

#16 halfstar

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 10:05 PM

:lol:

Sounds like he shouldn't be on the Supreme Court, then.

#17 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 10:08 PM

Elena Kagan should recuse herself also as she worked on the health care bill while she was solicitor general.

Justice Kagan has recused herself already from many such cases. But I'm not sure exactly what work the Justice would have done on this case. I mean she was confirmed in the same year it passed, so I don't know if she did indeed do any work on a case against it. Certainly just because she was solicitor general does not mean she should recuse herself. She would have had to have been more involved. So...
It would depend on details that I'm not aware of.

Justice Thomas, on the other hand, has a very bad record in this regard. For example, he should have recused himself from Citizen United and instead did not disclose financial gain by his wife that certainly at the minimum makes it appear he should have recused himself

#18 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 10:10 PM

So Mr. Thomas is qualified to interpret the Constitution as a member of the Supreme Court, but not able to put personal interests aside? Seems like there are bigger problems there than just health care.

:rolleyes:


:lol:

Sounds like he shouldn't be on the Supreme Court, then.


possibly. I'd link you to a lot more info on this, but I suspect they are tl for you ;)

#19 Speckta

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 12:57 AM

man Thomas got slammed by A. Weiner. :lmao:


You should've seen Weiner on Real Time with Bill Maher.

#20 Joker

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 01:12 AM

:rolleyes:


this has nothing to do with his abilities or qualifications

Of course not, it's just more propaganda for the left in order to further "the cause"

#21 Speckta

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 01:15 AM

Dude's married to somebody who is an activist for a cause he has to review. If that doesn't spell conflict of interest... I don't know what does.

#22 Julius

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 01:24 AM

I'd like to think that it's first the duty of the individual justice to recuse himself based on his conscience, and second the duty of the chief justice to strong-arm any justice with a potential conflict.

The opinion of Congress is neither here nor there.

#23 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 01:27 AM

I'd like to think that it's first the duty of the individual justice to recuse himself based on his conscience, and second the duty of the chief justice to strong-arm any justice with a potential conflict.

The opinion of Congress is neither here nor there.

One would hope

#24 Julius

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 01:30 AM

You know, as much as I disagree with almost every one of Roberts' opinions, I think he's administratively the best Chief Justice in my lifetime. The guy knows how to run a court.

#25 Joker

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 01:38 AM

I'd like to think that it's first the duty of the individual justice to recuse himself or herself based on his conscience, and second the duty of the chief justice to strong-arm any justice with a potential conflict.

The opinion of Congress is neither here nor there.


Fixed that for you :wink:

#26 Julius

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 01:58 AM

Fixed that for you :wink:


A lesson on political correctness from Joker, eh? :lmao:

#27 Joker

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 02:00 AM

A lesson on political correctness from Joker, eh? :lmao:

I'm here for you :heart:

#28 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 02:38 AM

You know, as much as I disagree with almost every one of Roberts' opinions, I think he's administratively the best Chief Justice in my lifetime. The guy knows how to run a court.

I don't know that I agree that he's the best, but he certainly is 1. brilliant 2. Not afraid to improve things administratively, and extremely competent in that area. 3. Has a sense of history, particularly in terms of the court.
On the other hand, Roberts has been extremely political and moved the court to be that way. Further, Roberts was less than forthright and probably deceptive to the Senate about such things.
Scalia, Alito and Thomas I'd rip out of the court in a second. Thomas especially. Roberts, I think belongs on the court. But not as chief justice.


In terms of being someone who would push a Justice with conflict to recuse themselves, I'm not sure about his record. I would think he would have known about Thomas' conflicts, but that's neither here nor there.... He came in after Alito didn't recuse himself with the case that involved Cheney, right?

Anyway, I don't think there's anything he can make a Justice do in that regard. I think the only recourse in the end is impeachment, right?

#29 Julius

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 03:17 AM

Don't know how you'd remove a justice short of impeachment and the Vegas odds against that would be 1,000,000-1 so it's hardly worth considering.

I'm still annoyed by one branch of government trying to hold sway on another. I wouldn't have signed the letter were I a congressperson.

#30 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 03:45 AM

Don't know how you'd remove a justice short of impeachment and the Vegas odds against that would be 1,000,000-1 so it's hardly worth considering.

Thomas' past actions might. I'm not aware of anything on the others.

I'm still annoyed by one branch of government trying to hold sway on another. I wouldn't have signed the letter were I a congressperson.

I see nothing wrong with them expressing their opinion. Justice Thomas is an extremely partisan activist Justice. He certainly won't be doing the right thing without a light being shone on this.
It's rather scandalous the sums of money people like the Koch brothers (and I say "like" because they as far as I know the exact donors are not known) are putting into a Supreme Court Justice's wife's radical right wing tea party operation.

#31 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 07:18 AM



#32 Joker

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 03:45 PM

"Progressive" Rallyists Call for Lynching of Clarence Thomas




#33 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 04:14 PM

Ah. nice.

First of all it's vile to call for the stringing up or hanging of Thomas and his wife, who should be impeached

Second, not one person said the word lynching, so the author of the headline (let me point out that is not Joker) is factually incorrect.

Third, given the nature of the film and the attendance of hundreds of people if not thousands at this rally (which by the way if it was a Tea Party event would have been plastered across every freaking news channel), it's clear that they interviewed many many many many many people and got a total of two people to say vile things. That is not 'Progressive Rallyists call'ing for anything. That's two people at a rally prodded into saying something vile.

Fourth, it really has nothing to do with the facts of whether Thomas should recuse himself so it's not germane to this thread.


Anyway, it does nothing to change the fact that we need a real impeachment investigation to get to the facts in the matter of Thomas' behavior. On the face of it, it appears there are numerous impeachment offenses. As I've written before, Thomas may have a credible defense that he has not yet offered.

#34 Dr. Freakynutz

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 04:16 PM

revisiting healthcare is such a mistake and such a waste of time and resources. these scumbags all talk about reducing the debt and creating jobs yet they rehash old battles already decided that really have very little chance of being changed. The issue is why the supreme court has to look at this at all. such political bullshit.

I think the republican party is doing themselves a disservice in trying to push for this. The public is done with this. the crazies that still care are in the minority and won't help them get re-elected. This will also alienate the independent voters which they will need if they expect to do anything.

#35 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 04:22 PM

I recommend this article on the 'tenthers'

Doomed to Repeat History

The Right Re-embraces Lunatic Legal Arguments from the Past

Posted Image Two young boys work in a coal mine in this 1908 photo. If the "tenthers" had their way, the Supreme Court would be able to rule important protections from the past 100 years such as child labor and mine safety laws unconstitutional.

SOURCE: AP

By Ian Millhiser | July 19, 2010


Download this memo (pdf)
Spend a week listening to the right, and you

#36 Joker

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 04:54 PM

revisiting healthcare is such a mistake and such a waste of time and resources. these scumbags all talk about reducing the debt and creating jobs yet they rehash old battles already decided that really have very little chance of being changed. The issue is why the supreme court has to look at this at all. such political bullshit.

I think the republican party is doing themselves a disservice in trying to push for this. The public is done with this. the crazies that still care are in the minority and won't help them get re-elected. This will also alienate the independent voters which they will need if they expect to do anything.

Health Care Law
57% of Voters Favor Repeal of Health Care Law, 38% Opposed

Monday, February 14, 2011

Most voters continue to strongly favor repeal of the national health care law and they

#37 melissa.phish

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 05:08 PM

I love the idiots who vote for a blanket repeal. I mean, a ton of the provisions are already in effect. So, if the act is repealed, can insurers just dump the 6 year old with leukemia now?

http://www.mintz.com...AT-HCR/web.html

#38 Joker

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 05:18 PM

It's certainly a clusterfuck that's for sure.

It's a shame they couldn't have worked more of the kinks out before pushing it through

#39 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 05:26 PM

I love the idiots who vote for a blanket repeal. I mean, a ton of the provisions are already in effect. So, if the act is repealed, can insurers just dump the 6 year old with leukemia now?

http://www.mintz.com...AT-HCR/web.html

Yeah, that's why most Americans don't want funding cut. It's also interesting that most of these polls (not just biased polls like Rasmussen) don't quantify the number of people who don't like the reform because it doesn't go far enough.
Poll: Most Oppose Cutting Funding for Health Care Reforms

Posted by Stephanie Condon 109 comments

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CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.
A majority of the public disapproves of the Republican idea to cut off funding for health care reform, a new CBS News poll shows - although most also disapprove of the health care law, and many aren't sure of its impact on the health care system.

Republicans in Congress have said they intend to do everything in their power to stop President Obama's health care reforms from going into place - including de-funding provisions of the legislation. Funding for the new health care reforms is one component of the debate Republicans intend to have with the president this year over federal spending, deficit reduction and government regulations.

The new CBS News poll, conducted Feb. 11 - 14, shows that 42 percent of Americans trust Mr. Obama to lower the deficit - and just as many trust Republicans in Congress. Meanwhile, an increasing number of Americans agree with Republicans that government regulates business too heavily.

The president's overall approval rating stands at 48 percent, similar to last month. Congress' approval rating is up since last fall, but is still low at 24 percent.

Health Care Reform

Most Americans, 55 percent, disapprove of the plan to cut off funding to the new health care reforms, and just 35 percent approve. Among Republicans, approval rises to 57 percent. Forty-nine percent of independents disapprove, and 38 percent approve.

Overall, Americans are wary of the new health care reform laws: 21 percent think the new law will make the system better, but 23 percent think the law will make the system worse.

Another 44 percent say they don't know enough to say what the law's impact will be. Uncertainty has increased since the law was first passed last year.

And while there are partisan differences - 43 percent of Republicans think it will make the system worse, but 40 percent of Democrats see it as an improvement - large segments of Republicans, Democrats and independents don't know what effect the law will have on the health care system.

As has been the case since the law was passed nearly a year ago, more Americans disapprove than approve of the legislation. Now, 33 percent approve, while 51 percent disapprove, including 34 percent who disapprove strongly.

#40 melissa.phish

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 05:27 PM

It's a shame they couldn't have worked more of the kinks out before pushing it through


Agreed. The rush to have a "victory" on health care produced an unwieldy monster that does not come close to addressing all the flaws in the current health care debacle of a system. Sigh.

#41 Joker

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 06:11 PM

Yeah, that's why most Americans don't want funding cut. It's also interesting that most of these polls (not just biased polls like Rasmussen) don't quantify the number of people who don't like the reform because it doesn't go far enough.

How is the Rasmussen poll biased?

A majority of the public disapproves of the Republican idea to cut off funding for health care reform, a new CBS News poll shows - although most also disapprove of the health care law, and many aren't sure of its impact on the health care system.

Republicans in Congress have said they intend to do everything in their power to stop President Obama's health care reforms from going into place - including de-funding provisions of the legislation. Funding for the new health care reforms is one component of the debate Republicans intend to have with the president this year over federal spending, deficit reduction and government regulations.

The new CBS News poll, conducted Feb. 11 - 14, shows that 42 percent of Americans trust Mr. Obama to lower the deficit - and just as many trust Republicans in Congress. Meanwhile, an increasing number of Americans agree with Republicans that government regulates business too heavily.

The president's overall approval rating stands at 48 percent, similar to last month. Congress' approval rating is up since last fall, but is still low at 24 percent.

Health Care Reform

Most Americans, 55 percent, disapprove of the plan to cut off funding to the new health care reforms, and just 35 percent approve. Among Republicans, approval rises to 57 percent. Forty-nine percent of independents disapprove, and 38 percent approve.

Overall, Americans are wary of the new health care reform laws: 21 percent think the new law will make the system better, but 23 percent think the law will make the system worse.

Another 44 percent say they don't know enough to say what the law's impact will be. Uncertainty has increased since the law was first passed last year.


And while there are partisan differences - 43 percent of Republicans think it will make the system worse, but 40 percent of Democrats see it as an improvement - large segments of Republicans, Democrats and independents don't know what effect the law will have on the health care system.

As has been the case since the law was passed nearly a year ago, more Americans disapprove than approve of the legislation. Now, 33 percent approve, while 51 percent disapprove, including 34 percent who disapprove strongly.


Seems this poll backs up the Rasmussen poll.

When more than half of Americans disapprove of the legislation it seems quite obvious that the American public isn't done with this, as was suggested.

#42 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 07:34 PM

Agreed. The rush to have a "victory" on health care produced an unwieldy monster that does not come close to addressing all the flaws in the current health care debacle of a system. Sigh.

There was no "rush", it was an epic long debate.
What stopped this bill from addressing the subject fully was obstruction by the folks, mostly on the right, who wanted nothing to pass.
In addition, the president folded way too quickly in the search for just a few republican votes that never materialized. So compromise after compromise was made for the benefit of legislators who were never going to vote for the bill in the first place. And did not.
That was the problem. The bill was debated ad naseum

#43 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 02:40 AM

Clarence Thomas' Legal Challenges Continue to Build -- Will the Next Come From Congress?




Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and a group of Congressional Democrats are said to be drafting demands that Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas be disbarred in Missouri for perjury, and investigated by the Department of Justice for bribery, according to House Judiciary Committee aides.
The perjury allegations stem from Justice Thomas' years-long failure to disclose his wife's non-investment income as required by law -- something he's now all but admitted. The accusations of bribery are connected to a $100,000 ad campaign, made during Thomas' 1991 confirmation hearings by the conservative Citizens United group, the allegation being that Justice Thomas repaid Citizens United for helping him get confirmed by ruling in their favor in the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC case.
These Congressional actions, which would likely be released before Congress goes into recess next week, bring to three the number of serious -- and official -- accusations being leveled against Justice Thomas.
Watchdog group Common Cause sent a letter to the Judicial Conference of the U.S. on January 21 asking it to determine if Justice Thomas had violated the Ethics in Government Act when he failed to disclose his wife's income from 2003 to 2009, and refer the matter to the Attorney General's Office if it found the allegation to be true.
Justice Thomas wrote to the Committee on Financial Disclosure the same day and explained that he didn't disclose his wife's substantial income "...due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions." Some lawyers say this amounts to a confession of perjury, and add that the filing instructions merely ask if the filer is married, and if so, if the spouse had any non-investment income.
Then, on February 23rd, a progressive activist group, Protect Our Elections, made a formal complaint covering the same allegations -- and more -- about Thomas' actions to the Missouri Supreme Court; allegations -- especially the allegations of perjury -- that could potentially lead to Justice Thomas' disbarment in that state, where he's licensed to practice law.
"If someone confessed to 13 years of perjury that could certainly be a violation of the Missouri Code of Professional Conduct, [and] it would not be unusual for a disbarment to flow from that," says Barbara Glesner Fines, associate dean of the University of Missouri Law School in Kansas City, Mo.
Whether being disbarred would necessarily lead to Thomas' formal removal from the bench through impeachment is a matter of opinion and by no means an assured fact. The Constitution only says that "The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior" (Article III Section 1), and doesn't define said behavior, so theoretically, a Federal judge could be disbarred and keep his or her job.
Whether it would be politically possible for Justice Thomas to remain on the bench during the run-up to the 2012 elections while he was under investigation is another matter. The Missouri Office of Disciplinary Counsel says complaints like those made by Protect Our Elections typically take about six months, followed by a hearing before the state Supreme Court, if the accused requests one.
And a procedural mistake may delay resolution of the proceedings in any event, because an office called the Judicial Commission typically handles complaints about judges, explains Alan Pratzel, spokesman for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Deciding which office has jurisdiction in the matter could stretch out the proceedings.
That wouldn't oppress Kevin Zeese, the Maryland attorney who filed the complaint for Protect Our Elections. "We see it as a multi-year effort, and I'm sure more issues will come out," he says.
That, of course, would probably be fine for House Democrats, since Republicans have a majority on the House Judiciary Committee and would unlikely to even consider a motion to impeach Justice Thomas -- election year or not.
Mounds of complaints and legal maneuvers, on the other hand, would keep the issue before the voters through most if not all the 2012 election cycle, allowing Democrats to paint Republicans as hypocrites -- if they defend Justice Thomas for voluntarily committing an offense for years that Bill Clinton had to be trapped into committing once -- or as unprincipled and power-hungry if they abandon him.
And if Justice Thomas is prevailed upon to resign the bench, the Republicans lose their voting block on the Court.




If Rep. Weiner does head up the House Democrats' effort, he seems well-suited, since he's been eager to take on conservatives since the 2008 elections, and in a way that many progressives say they wish President Obama would. A good example: His now-famous shouting match with Fox News' Megyn Kelly on March 2nd.
Calls to Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee referred this reporter to Rep. Weiner as "the guy who's taking point on this." When asked to confirm the reports, Congressman Weiner's press representative, David Arnold, wanted to know who'd told us the Congressman was in fact leading the process, but didn't deny the reports were true. He later didn't respond to several requests for comment.


http://www.huffingto...a_b_835956.html

#44 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 02:42 PM



#45 Deadshow Dan

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 02:43 PM

Will Clarence Thomas Recuse Himself on Health Care Reform?


— By Stephanie Mencimer
| Tue May. 31, 2011 8:11 AM PDT


Posted Image James Berglie/Zuma
Following a time-honored Washington tradition of dumping required but embarrassing information on a Friday night before a major holiday, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas finally released the details of his wife's income from her year or so working for the tea party group Liberty Central, which fought President Obama's health care reform law. His new financial disclosure form indicates that his wife, Virginia, who served as Liberty Central's president and CEO, received $150,000 in salary from the group and less than $15,000 in payments from an anti-health care lobbying firm she started.
The disclosure was apparently prompted in part by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who had been needling Thomas (including on Twitter) for months to disclose how much money his wife earned from Liberty Central. That's because challenges to Obama's health care reform law are likely to end up before the Supreme Court sooner rather than later, and if Thomas and his wife benefited from her income working against the bill, the justice has an enormous conflict of interest in hearing any legal challenge. Thomas had failed to disclose Virginia's income on his financial disclosure forms for 20 years; under pressure from Weiner and others, he had recently amended old disclosures to reflect hundreds of thousands of dollars she had earned working for the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank that also opposed Obama's health care plan.
But, up until now, Thomas had not revealed how much money his wife made from her controversial Liberty Central work. When Virginia Thomas decided to take a high-profile role in the organization, she was immediately criticized because of the potential that her job might compromise her husband's independence on the bench. Eventually, she was forced to step down (a move also apparently prompted by her bizarre October phone call to Anita Hill, the woman who'd accused her husband of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearing). When she left the organization, she created a new consulting firm, Liberty Consulting, which also did anti-health care reform lobbying. Justice Thomas finally released the details of her compensation Friday night, but the disclosure, and Weiner's triumphant press release announcing the move, were largely overshadowed by Weinergate.
Over the weekend, Weiner's Twitter account was allegedly hacked and Tweeted a photo of a near-naked man to a college student. Conservative media mogul Andrew Breitbart published the photo on his site, Big Government, and the feeding frenzy was furious enough to ensure that Thomas' news barely saw the light of day. Still, if and when health care reform makes its way to the Supreme Court, Thomas will have a much harder time making his conflict of interest go away.

#46 Joker

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 06:27 PM

Anthony Weiner Tweet-Taunts Clarence Thomas About Financial Records News Dump

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) spent his Friday afternoon pestering Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for executing a classic news dump: a release of his financial disclosure filing on the eve of Memorial Day Weekend.

The Congressman spent the day tweeting to his heart's content, first alerting his 43,000-plus followers to the likelihood that someone on the Court was going to try and bury an embarrassing story while the world's attention was turned toward the commute and barbecue ahead:

"Friday dump Scotus style? I'm hearing disclosures released today. #ConflictsAbound," he tweeted.

Shortly thereafter, Weiner let it be known that it was Thomas whose financial disclosure filing he was awaiting. Around 4:30, he had a link to send, showing that Thomas had served on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit Horatio Alger Association and had made $10,000 for a speech at University of Minnesota School of Law.

The real conflict, if there was one, was with his wife Ginni, who earned "Salary and benefits" from Liberty Central and Liberty Consulting -- prominent Tea Party Groups. The filing also revealed that the two share several financial investments, including 1/3 interest in rental property in Liberty City, Georgia, and a 401k plan. Thomas went on to note that, "two of the Georgia rental properties have been torn down. The only remaining property is an old house in Liberty County."

All in all, the file told a fairly well traversed story. It's been known for several months now that Thomas's wife -- whose employment at Liberty and the Heritage Foundation had not been disclosed on prior documents -- presents ethical questions for the cases he chooses to handle as a Supreme Court Justice. " Spouse of #ConflictedClarenceThomas has every right to work for whomever, but he must recuse himself," Weiner tweeted, reiterating his belief that Thomas' should not rule on cases regarding the constitutionality of the health care reform law, due to a potential conflict of interest.

That said, the issue of whether this was some sort of nefarious news dump on the Justice's part isn't as crystal clear as Weiner suggested. The date on the financial disclosure file is May 13, meaning that it's been filed with the Court for several weeks. Who chose to release it on Friday afternoon isn't clear. Politico's Ken Vogel blamed the Court clerk, to which Weiner, ever the cynic, replied: " Without the bosses knowlege [sic] or Ok? Cmon."


The Huffington Post reached out to Weiner's office to ask why he spent his day obsessing over this singular task. They did not immediately return that request. The office did, however, put out a press release stating that the disclosure from Thomas came after "months of pressure" from the Congressman.

“We knew that Justice Thomas’s family had a financial stake in opposing health care reform. Now we know even more,” Weiner said. “It’s pretty clear the Justice has one option here: recusal.”


Here is a sampling of his tweets:

FIRST:

What's #ConflictedClarenceThomas hiding? Friday dump scotus style
less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry

#47 insolent cur

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 06:31 PM

he should recuse himself. the standard is to avoid the appearance of impropriety. with his wife's highly visible, somewhat radical position, it smacks of a bit more than the mere "appearance of impropriety."