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Monday, January 24, 2011

Going After The Supremes

Criticism of Supreme Court Justices is nothing new.  We do it and they do it.

But the latest tactic in going after two Supreme Court Justices, Scalia and Thomas, seems out of the ordinary.  Since the first of this year we have seen three charges made.

First, Common Cause filed a preposterous disciplinary complaint because Scalia and Thomas supposedly attended a gathering sponsored by the Koch brothers (who themselves are the new target of Think Progress).  It turns out that Scalia didn't attend, and Thomas merely dropped by.  Regardless, there is no suggestion that anything improper took place.

Next, there was the charge that Thomas didn't disclose his wife's income on court disclosure forms for a few years when she worked for a conservative think tank.  Everyone knew Thomas's wife worked for the group, and as the link above reflects, there are no penalties for failing to file disclosure documents, which is a common occurrance.  This charge is new, and I'm not aware of any response from Thomas or the Court spokesman.

Now there is a charge that Scalia must recuse himself from any case involving separation of powers because he is giving a lecture to Congress (mostly new Republican members) on the meaning of separation of powers under the Constitution.  This is a controversy about nothing.  It is very common for judges to teach courses in law schools, and that essentially is what Scalia is doing, schooling Congressmen on the Constitution.

Ann Althouse debunks this latest kerfuffle:
Wouldn't it be ironic if that editorial left the NYT looking rash and biased? Some liberal members of Congress will attend the session. If anything fishy goes on, they'll let us know. I presume Justice Scalia will give the lecture he always gives about the proper role of courts in our constitutional system. I look forward to hearing about the supposedly outrageous statements that turn out to be entirely mundane within the set of things Scalia has been saying for decades.

What it all boils down to is: Liberals don't like it that Scalia is on the Supreme Court. They've never liked it. And the NYT is especially dedicated to making people think that his being on the Court is something untoward, some abuse of power. I'm sure there are some NYT readers who are titillated by that sensationalism, but I find it embarrassing.
This all really stems from the Citizens United case which leveled the playing field for political spending from corporations.  The left cannot stand the decision, as we witnessed last year when Obama attacked the decision during the State of the Union Address.

Faced with the reality of a split court with Justice Kennedy as the deciding vote for the next couple of years, at least, there is a full fledged attempt to delegitimize the conservatives on the Court.

[Note:  This post was modified from the original]

Update:  It should be noted that the financial disclosure forms do not require the reporting of the dollar amount of a spouse's income unless from honoraria, so while the headlines are scraming how Thomas failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in his wife's income, in fact the only non-disclosure at most was whether his wife had "reportable" non-investment income.  There is no definition of "reportable" on the form, but the relevant statute seems to refer to "earned income" over $1000.

Update No. 2:  Thomas has updated his disclosure forms:
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has corrected financial disclosures for the past 13 years that omitted his wife's employment.

Letters amending the reports, released by the court on Monday, show that Virginia Thomas has worked for Michigan's Hillsdale College, the Heritage Foundation and the Republican leadership in the House.

Her employment was previously known, but Thomas neglected to include it, as required, on the report of his personal finances that he files annually, along with all other federal judges. Thomas blamed the error on misunderstanding the filing instructions.

The annual report asks only for the source, not the amount, of money earned by a spouse, and Thomas did not provide his wife's income.

Thomas included his wife's employment until 1996.
It looks like Common Cause and its allies did catch Thomas in an error, but as the articles linked in the original post reflect, this is not the sort of error which in the normal course goes beyond a correction.  But the hunt for something more meaningful continues, I'm sure, for Common Cause, Think Progress and others.

Related Posts:
The Nuts Attack On Roberts
Alito Was Not "Rude" Enough To His Arrogancy
A Window Into His Divisive Soul

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  1. The left is becoming more and more unbalanced at every turn. Lets take their theories out to their normal conclusion: Kagan was the Dean of Harvard Law School any subject taught at that school, and any class she taught or gave a lecture about, she needs to recuse herself if the topic is brought before the court. And Ginsberg should recuse herself when the topics she taught surfaces as well. Especially any abortion case since she wrote that famous law review article about using the commerce clause to secure abortion rights instead of privacy.Breyer should recuse himself, since he just wrote a book about the Constitution and would have preordained bias on subjects. Idiotic yes, but so is the nonsense the left is peddling about Scalia and Thomas (and I am not necessarily a fan of either)

    The Left is becoming an embarrassment to itself...

  2. "Wouldn't it be ironic if that editorial left the NYT looking rash and biased?"

    Perish the thought!

  3. Disingenuous at best, Associate Clinical Professor of Law Jacobson. Associate Justice Thomas chose not to report over $680,000 in income over a period of five years from an organization that takes positions on issues before the court. I wonder how magnanimous you would be had some you oppose chose to make a similar omission?

  4. How original, this strategy of attacking judges that issue decisions one doesn't agree with! Pity conservatives didn't think of it first. I mean, imagine if we would have been subjected to 40 years of wailing about "unelected activist judges," "legislators in robes," etc., and etc.!

  5. Nestorma, I think I'd recognize his wife as a separate entity as he probably does as well. Frankly, any earnings I might have do not belong to my husband. They may not even use the same bank account, as is common these days, as women with careers keep their stuff separate. Indeed, I would suspect most of them are leftist feminists and would not want their husbands to have the GALL to claim their income as his property or earnings.

    This is all conjecture, of course, and may not apply to them, but I wonder how others see that? Bald Faced Paternalism????

  6. vharlow,

    Thomas checked the box "none" on the section where "spousal non-investment income" would be disclosed.

  7. Hey are the Justices going to the State of the Union being given by the town clown?

  8. Isn't this just a continuation of what they were doing to Sarah Palin - bringing ever-more and ever-more-expensive legal grievances against her until she could get anything else done and would eventually have bankrupted herself with legal defense?

    - MD

  9. "couldn't" get anything else done...

    - MD

  10. Congratulations! It took the Left only 13 years to uncover such nefarious intent by Thomas.

    That'll teach us. Or something.

  11. To the Regressives, as they stalk the SCOTUS:

    Strain strain strain ... strain those gnats!
    Then fling 'em out, see if they'll stick
    From wherever you're at ...
    As you swallow camels of dysfunction
    'Till your belly's fat ...
    Strain strain strain ... strain those gnats!