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Feb 15 2011

Scalia and Thomas Push Limits of Political Involvement

Sorry gang, I know you were probably hoping my next blog post would be about the skin tight white dress Lindsay Lohan wore to court the  other day, but unfortunately I have to write about something serious -political activism by two Supreme Court Justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.  I was reading the Times on the train today and saw a small article on page A 17  that the group Common Cause had asked the Supreme Court to clarify Judge Clarence Thomas’ visit to a conservative event hosted by the Federalist Society, a conservative think tank.  When the Court first addressed the inquiry, it reported that Thomas had only done a “brief drop-by” to the event. Further investigation revealed that the Federalist Society had reimbursed Thomas all his expenses for “four-days  of transportation, meals and hotel accommodations.” Four days! And it was only a weekend event! That’s hardly a brief drop-by!The event was organized by the Koch Brothers, billionaires who are principal funding sources for the Tea Party and its second-favorite gal pal Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota.

But this is just the latest connection between Thomas, Scalia, the Tea Party and Bachmann. Here are a few items:

1. Earlier this year, Bachmann invited Scalia to instruct Republican and Tea Party representatives in Congress about the Constitution as it pertains to legislating according to “fundamentalist” Constitutional analysis and religious doctrine.  This may not sound like big news but to have a sitting Supreme Court Justice instruct sitting members of Congress on how to craft legislation is wiping away the separation of powers.  It is unprecedented.

Photo of Clarence Thomas courtesy of Alex Wong/Getty Images

2. Thomas’s wife, Ginny, was the leader of a Tea Party lobbying  group that benefited from the Citizen’s United decision that gave corporations “person” status allowing them to donate as much money to campaigns as they like.  All told, Ginny Thomas earned $700,000.00 from conservative groups in the past few years.

3.  Justice Thomas is being  accused of not reporting the income Ginny raked in between 2003 and 2007 from the Heritage Foundation. Heritage is an ultra -conservative think-tank that  influences Republican policy and is associated with the Koch Brothers and their Cato Institute.

4. The Koch brothers host regular secretive gathering of high-end corporate honchos that have been attended by both Thomas and Scalia. The meeting is closed to the public and to the media. The invite to an upcoming gathering (which was leaked to the internet) reminds participants to keep all topics confidential and not to post updates about the gathering on social media. While no one knows what exactly were the topics of discussion at the event Thomas and Scalia attended, the invitation for the upcoming event includes topics such as “Judicial Elections – Is there an opportunity for advocates of free enterprise to be heard?”  and “Threats to American Freedom and Prosperity -Business leaders have an important role to play in countering the dangerous attacks on our founding principles.”    Is it any wonder these two voting to treat corporations as “persons” and allow unrestricted corporate money in politics?

I could go on, but I am just trying to make a point that these two justices are crossing the line from making a few public appearances to explain the inner workings of the court (the usual speaking gig for a Supreme) to what amounts to political activism and trying to influence Congress. It is also unusual to see Thomas being so willing to show up and give a speech when he is about to celebrate going FIVE YEARS IN A ROW without muttering a single word during oral arguments at the Supreme Court. He won’t tell litigants what he’s thinking, but he’ll give his opinion to anyone who sends him an invite if they are from the right side of the aisle.

Investigation should be done to see what Thomas did for four days at a weekend retreat and why it was described as a brief drop-by initially.  What occurred at this secret gathering of conservative millionaires and billionaires: Were there law topics or was it all political strategy as the upcoming event appears to be?  The problem is that this stuff is a bit too heady and most folks wont see the big deal about the justices’ activities.  But the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary are central pillars to our system of justice.  They need to be protected just as much as freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

Alright, that’s enough on this topic.  Here’s LiLo in her court dress – ridiculous. I mean does her lawyer have any control over this girl ?

Photo courtesy NY Daily News

2 comments

  1. David

    It’s sad that it seams no one is paying attention to issues like this. People are so distracted by the senseless and calculated misinformation they are spoon fed on fox news that they don’t see the bagman carrying the merchandise right out the back door. They spend so much time and effort debating the notion that a black man with a funny name could not really be American, but overlook the fact that our entire judicial and electoral system is being subverted for political gain and ultimately sold to the highest corporate denomination. Very very sad!

  2. Oscar Michelen

    Thanks for the excellent comment David. I would add that these are the same folks who claim to be strict constructionists and strict law-and-order types yet have no qualms about reversing yeasr of precedent and bending the rules when it suits them.

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