Guest Post

Colonel Morris Davis
Executive Director and Counsel, Crimes of War Project
Posted: February 10, 2011 04:27 PM
Huffington Post

Disclaimer: All guest posts are the opinion of the poster and do not necessarily represent the views of administration. M-H

Pompeia, the wife of Julius Caesar, had to be above suspicion. Ginni, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has to be at the center of it.

“The government has no right to tell me who I can do business with” was something I heard when I was an Air Force JAG doing government ethics briefings for civilian spouses of officers serving in command positions. I’d respond, “You’ve got the right to do business with anyone you choose, but your husband doesn’t have a right to be a commander.”

The standards of ethical conduct that apply to federal government employees and members of the armed forces prohibit those serving in leadership roles and decision-making positions from maintaining relationships that create the appearance of a conflict of interest between their official duties and their personal interests, including the personal interests of their spouses and dependent children. The rule is intended to promote public confidence that official decisions are made without partiality or favor due to a financial or other personal stake in the outcome. The civilian wife of a military commander is free to recruit the spouses of her husband’s subordinates to sell Mary Kay or Amway, but her husband will likely lose his job; command is a privilege, not a right.

A 22-year-old lieutenant is held to a higher standard of conduct and personal accountability than a 62-year-old Supreme Court justice.

Justice Clarence Thomas filed annual financial disclosure reports — reports that he signed certifying all the information was true and complete — for more than a decade and listed all of the “non-investment income” he earned from speaking, teaching, and writing. In the same reports, he marked “None” in the section labeled “Spouse’s Non-Investment Income.” He recently filed amendment letters saying that for more than a decade he “inadvertently omitted” his wife’s employment due to “a misunderstanding of filing instructions,” including overlooking her paid positions with the conservative Heritage Foundation and as a staffer for Rep. Dick Armey, then a member of the House and now one of the leaders of the Tea Party movement.

Consider the three words that threw Justice Thomas for a loop: “spouse” (the one to whom you said “I do”), “non-investment” (not returns on investments, but earnings like the speaking, teaching, and writing payments he listed for himself), and “income” (money flowing in, not out). Taken alone or together they don’t seem too complex for a person of average intellect to comprehend, and Justice Thomas clearly understood what the term “non-investment income” meant when he listed his own earnings. Justice Thomas’ difficulties can be traced to one word: “spouse.”

A number of recent articles condemned Justice Thomas for his display of extreme incompetence or gross indifference, while others dismissed the criticism directed his way as much ado about nothing that in the end would lead to nothing. Regardless of Justice Thomas’ motivation, the fact remains that he had longstanding undisclosed personal financial links to people and organizations with unequivocal positions on issues that were or will be before the Court, links sufficient to cause reasonable people to question the impartiality of his opinions.

A decade-long record suggests that Justice Thomas and his wife aren’t particularly concerned about preserving the appearance of an independent judiciary. An article in the New York Times in December 2000 entitled “Contesting the Vote: Challenging a Justice; Job of Thomas’s Wife Raises Conflict-of-Interest Questions” noted that Mrs. Thomas was working for the Heritage Foundation soliciting resumes for executive branch positions while the Gore v. Bush case was before the Court. In the end, over 540,000 more citizens voted for Gore than Bush, but one more Supreme Court justice voted for Bush than Gore; had Thomas recused himself it’s likely Al Gore would have been the president.

Some would have learned from the experience and tried especially hard to avoid further controversy and embarrassment to the image of the Court. Not the Thomases. A decade later, Ginni Thomas was still in the headlines because of her public role as a partisan advocate for the far-right conservative agenda. Last fall, her Liberty Central group declared “ObamaCare” to be “unconstitutional.” (They’ve since removed the statement from their website.) Interesting to see how her husband assesses the same issue when it reaches the Court.

Likewise, Justice Thomas (Scalia, too) was a featured speaker at one of the controversial invitation-only Koch brothers’ gatherings for elite conservatives. As the invitation letter for their latest event said, the purpose is “to review strategies for combating the multitude of public policies that threaten to destroy America as we know it.” The secretive brothers are so heavily invested in combating nearly everything the Obama administration touches that their extensive right-wing activist network is known in Washington political circles as “the Kochtopus.” Many of the issues on the Koch brothers’ far-right agenda either have been or will be before the Supreme Court where the perception that their invisible hands are at work could raise suspicion that justice is bought, not blind.

Since the midterm elections, some have tried to take it down a notch. Not the Thomases. In November 2010, Ginni Thomas filed paperwork in Virginia to incorporate her own lobbying and consulting firm, Liberty Consulting, Inc. On her website (, she touts her 30 years as a “Washington insider” and says she’ll use her “network of contacts” to provide “effective advocacy and assistance on behalf of those liberty-loving citizens and organizations who wish to preserve limited government, free enterprise, national security, individual liberty and personal responsibility.” She also notes that she’s “an ambassador to the tea party movement.” In a recent email to congressional chiefs of staff, she said she had already met personally with half of the 99 new members of Congress, and it’s fair to assume a majority of those share her viewpoint on conservative principles. The Thomas influence is at work in both houses of Congress where laws get made and at the top of the Capitol Hill where they’re interpreted.

The corrosive effects of money and special interests have eroded public confidence in the executive and legislative branches of government. At least there, however, the president and Congress are accountable to the public every few years, and they can be turned out of office if the public perceives their conduct or performance is lacking. Not so with the judicial branch where justices are appointed, not elected, and serve for life, not a set term. The judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, was believed to be above the political fray; a place where money didn’t speak louder than ordinary people, where an inmate named Miranda and a detainee named Hamdi had the same clout as a Koch or a Bush. The Court’s luster is tarnished.

Chief Justice Roberts said a Supreme Court justice is like an umpire in a baseball game; the job is to objectively call balls and strikes. There is a significant difference: the Commissioner of Major League Baseball would not allow an umpire behind the plate to call balls and strikes if the umpire’s spouse coached one of the teams.

Caesar’s wife had to be above suspicion. A Supreme Court justice should be, too. Wearing the robe is a privilege, not a right.

37 Thoughts to “Morris Davis: Caesar’s Wife, Meet Ginni Thomas”

  1. Cato the Elder

    I see the hallelujah chorus of the professional left is tuning up in anticipation of the possibility of Kagan having to recuse herself for an actual conflict (as opposed to the appearance of one). No doubt this is the beginning of a long series of grievances that will surface from far left scatological fever swamps like the Huffington Post in an attempt to cast the decision as illegitimate if/when SCOTUS holds that the government cannot force a citizen into a transaction with a third party.

    Perhaps you could write a follow up piece on Justices that used their position for actual financial gain, like Ginsberg, if you’re really that concerned about SCOTUS perceptions:

  2. Not Me, Bubba

    “Washington insider” and says she’ll use her “network of contacts” to provide “effective advocacy and assistance on behalf of those liberty-loving citizens and organizations who wish to preserve limited government, free enterprise, national security, individual liberty and personal responsibility.””

    LOL….she argues against government yet she chooses to work directly with them to further her clients’ needs simultaneously benefitting the government. A paradox, no?

    Maybe Ginny should go back on her anti-psychotics and take a Xanax for good measure. She is speaking in circles!

  3. @Not Me, Bubba
    We are arguing for a limited government based on Constitutional restrictions, not “against government.” If an “insider” wants to advance our agenda, who are we to turn it down?

  4. Morris Davis

    Cato — It’s pitiful if that’s the best you can muster. If you believe Justice Ginsburg not recusing herself due to her husband’s Smith Barney IRA with the conduct of Clarence and Ginni Thomas then you are a man or woman with an extraordinarily warped perspective. Mr. Ginsburg, when the IRA issue came to his attention, had Smith Barney sell the equity holdings in his IRA to ensure going forward there was no appearance of a conflict of interest for his wife. What has Ginni Thomas done?

  5. Morris Davis

    Cato — The article you cited about Justice Ginsburg was written by John Berlau. If you go to the website for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), you’ll see that Mr. Berlau is director of the CEI Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs. He wrote the article in 1997. The Koch brothers donated $90,000 to CEI in 1997 and a total of $666,000 over the years. I’m willing to bet that CEI earned a lot more from the Kocks than Mr. Ginsburg earned from his IRA.

  6. Wolverine

    Moe, when we had that exchange some time ago about Soros money coming into your own organization, a part of your explanation was that, when you lost the funding from that New York foundation which went under because of the Madoff scandal, the Soros people stepped in and saved the day for COWP. You also tried to make it sound like the Soros funding had no strings attached.

    Why should I not respond then that, under circumstances in which the Soros people responded generously to your needs and bailed you out, one might infer that Moe Davis and his cohorts at COWP may be under the undue influence of the Soros organization? But I don’t do that simply because I do not know you and I have no basis for making such a charge without evidence. On the other hand, you constantly cite a flow of Koch money into particular organizations , followed by the implication that the people in those organizations have most probably sold their souls to the Koch brothers. So, from this we are to conclude that everybody on our side is corrupt and everybody on your side is as pure as the driven snow? Absolutely none of these people are capable of independent thought but, rather, depend on some kind of gospel flowing straight from the offices of Koch industries? And you argument before the court is: “I’m willing to bet….”?!!! Just saying, my man, if you have the hard evidence, show it.

  7. Morris Davis :

    Cato — It’s pitiful if that’s the best you can muster. If you believe Justice Ginsburg not recusing herself due to her husband’s Smith Barney IRA with the conduct of Clarence and Ginni Thomas then you are a man or woman with an extraordinarily warped perspective. Mr. Ginsburg, when the IRA issue came to his attention, had Smith Barney sell the equity holdings in his IRA to ensure going forward there was no appearance of a conflict of interest for his wife. What has Ginni Thomas done?

    Crank called Anita Hill after 20 years????

  8. Ginni Thomas appears to be the poster child for conflict of interest. Correction, ON-going conflict of interest. The Thomases seem to define inappropriate behavior.

    A supreme court justice should be above any political fray and for that reason, the spouses should not even come close to what this woman has been doing for years. They knew the deal when he accepted the position. She needs to go work for the library of Congress or the Botanical Gardens and stay out of trouble.

    She apparently doesn’t think she has to go by the rules. Rules are not always written.

  9. Cato the Elder

    Morris Davis :
    If you believe Justice Ginsburg not recusing herself due to her husband’s Smith Barney IRA with the conduct of Clarence and Ginni Thomas then you are a man or woman with an extraordinarily warped perspective.

    That’s an interesting way to put it, albeit subjective. Another way to put it might be “astute reader” since the U.S.C. doesn’t differentiate between small and large interests, but I suppose a strict reading of the text constitutes a “warped perspective” in your world.

    While I happen to agree generally with your assertion that money in politics and influence peddling is eroding trust in our public institutions, and even more specifically that Ginni has exhibited some extremely poor judgement I would think that you’d agree that a conflict is a conflict, no matter how small. It doesn’t matter whether that conflict is with the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund or the Koch Brothers.

  10. Morris Davis

    Wolverine – I understand that the right is skeptical of anything connected with Soros like the left is skeptical of anything connected with the Kochs. I know there is nothing I can say to change what you think, but the way I look at things Soros or the Kochs fund is to ask “what’s in it for them?” As I said before, a few years ago Open Society picked up the obligations of a foundation that went under in the Madoff scandal and fulfilled commitments the defunct foundation made to a range of non-profits, including the Crimes of War Education Project. If you go to our website you’ll see the work we’ve done … reports on the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, the role of conflict minerals in funding warlords in the Congo, the genocide in Rwanda, the propriety of targeting al-Aulaqi, etc. The question I’d ask is how does any of that help or hurt Soros? On the other hand, if you go to the CEI homepage the lead story is entitled “EPA Guilty of Environmental Hyperbole in Mountaintop Mining Veto,” a story critical of the EPA for rejecting a Clean Water Act permit for the Mingo Logan Coal Company, a division of the Arch Coal Company. Arch Coal and Koch Carbons (one of several Koch brother companies with an interest in environmental regulation) (or the lack thereof)) are both involved in the American Coal Council. If you look at the work the CEI has done it appears to me that nearly all of it advocates a policy position that advances the interests of the Kochs and their companies.

    Cato — I agree with you that all conflicts of interests are wrong. The distinction I see is that Justice and Mr. Ginsburg took prompt action to end theirs while Justice and Mrs. Thomas seem to relish the attention it generates (any publicity is good publicity) and take a “so what are you going to do about it?” attitude.

  11. Elena

    WOW, Can’t tell you how much I can’t stand it when people refuse to stay on the topic at hand. Moe Davis is not apponted to the Supreme Court, let’s get that straight.

    This is about Supreme Court Justice Thomas NOT properly disclosing what could be seen as a clear conflict. As I recall, the conservatives were quite appalled that Gietner had a tax issue at one point by not disclosing properly on his personal tax return. How is this different from that? Once again, where is the comensurate outrage, yes, I believe that is silence I am “hearing”.

  12. marinm

    @Elena, I think because in the end Justice Thomas and Kagan won’t recuse themselves from this case or even if both were to do so.. It’d be a wash anyways.

    My only question on this topic is — was he forced to pay a fine or tax on her income or was it simply to ‘report’ her income so that it could be on record?

    Outside of that — just no story here.

  13. marinm

    Hope this isn’t off topic but saw this on Politico and it mentioned the Koch brothers.

  14. Morris Davis

    marinm — Thanks for posting the link to the Politico article. In my view, it underscores the importance of the annual financial disclosure reports.

  15. Wolverine

    Moe — I do go to your website. For obvious reasons explained in the past, I am highly interested in the COWP take on events in Africa especially. Nor does it really bother me a whole Hell of lot in your particular case about the Soros donation. I just used it for purposes of argument.

    What does bother me much more is a growing tendency to dismiss the idea that there could merely be a coincidental confluence of independent ideas coming out of an advocacy organization with the views of some of its more prominent and generous donors. It seems to be a pretty fair assumption that most donors give to organizations with which they agree and not to organizations with which they disagree. But the inference is far too often these days that such donors automatically cause the organization to dance to their own tune, i.e. that the voice of the organization is now really the voice of the donor, that the donor has “bought” this expression of his own views. This accusation has applied not only to advocacy organizations but also to university researchers dependent on government or other grants for continuation of their work.

    I am not denying that this can happen, and I try to watch for such things — especially the “seed money” issue, where I think this is more likely. (The J Street organization and the Soros group, for example, agree not to use Soros funds as seed money in order to avoid this very perception.) But for established organizations, e.g. The Heritage Foundation founded in the 1970’s and having Koch on the current list of donors, it becomes a question of the chicken or the egg, so to speak. Does Koch contribute simply because of a confluence of viewpoints or does an organization take the money and then agree to accept marching orders from Koch? It could be either way; and if we insist on making blanket accusations about donors and donees without actually having hard evidence, are we not possibly maligning some honest people in the process?

    You were a Federal attorney and prosecutor in a manner of speaking. As an investigator of major terrorist cases I had contact with Federal prosecuting attorneys and counselors. I will tell you that all my theories, my analyses, my speeches in which I was willing to bet the family farm never got those guys off the dime. They wanted the guns, the explosive caches, the fingerprints, the unimpeachable witnesses. Then we could talk. Admittedly it often frustrated the Hell out of me. But they were right. I do not see why such should not be applied to the donor-donee question. I am no more a fan of undue monetary influence on politics than you are; but can we not have some hard evidence before we proclaim ourselves ready to figuratively throw everybody into the political slammer?

  16. Wolverine

    Elena — That post by Morris had a lot more in it than just the issue of Justice Thomas. It is Morris who also raised the issue of Koch and the “corrosive effects” of money on government and politics. Morris always manages to give us multiple avenues for discussion. I like that, and I will take them.

    BTW, can you provide some examples of YOUR outrage about Tim Geitner? I just don’t remember that.

  17. Wolverine

    As for the issue of Ginni Thomas and her personal activities, there have been some very good points made here about the traditional decorum of the SCOTUS and keeping that body above the political fray. But I am also wondering whether in this case we are not seeing a sort of conflict between two major themes in contemporary life. I grew up in a era when wives were usually — not always, but usually — relegated to the kitchen, the laundry room, the marital bed, the PTA, and, at best, the nursing office and the school classroom. Then I lived through a 50-year era of seeing these same women battle for equal rights and start to break through glass ceilings. I also saw an era when women began to insist on having the right to maintain a personal and professional persona that was not absolutely dependent upon and restricted to the social and professional demands of the husband and his position. No longer were many of these women just the mistress of the mansion and the graceful hostesses for their husbands’ circle of friends and associates. They were the doctors, the attorneys, the civic activists, the businesswomen — in many cases dynamos flying on their own independent wings, with hubbies possibly a bit uncomfortable but grinning and bearing it a la Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I don’t know. Perhaps being the spouse of a SCOTUS justice — or any other judge, for that matter — might be considered a thing apart. But it also seems to have the flavor of something from a couple of decades ago. “Ginni, stifle yourself!!!” Does Archie Bunker still live ?

  18. Ugh….If Ginni Thomas were an attorney, a teacher, a doctor, a pilot, I doubt if we would be discussing conflict of interest. It isn’t that she has a career, it is THE career that she has chosen that is on a collision course with her husband’s job.

    Her husband is almost unique. He is one of 9 people holding his particular job. They both knew this going in and therefore should have discussed the limitations his job would place on her future career.

    Kagan is single and Sotomayor is divorced. Justice Ginsberg’s husband should have to go by the same rules as Ginni and the other wives.

    I am not willing to blame the enlightenment of women for Ginni’s dilemma. She just needs to use some common sense. Common sense, albeit rare, is not a new invention.

    She and her husband have both thumbed their nose at any hint of impropriety. Mr. Ginsberg immediately corrected his investment problem by selling it. Wasn’t it mutual funds?

    Funny thing about mutual funds–you don’t even know exactly what is in a portfolio on a day to day basis.

  19. Wolverine

    But, really, who are we to dictate to Ginni what “career” she is allowed to have? And can we then assume that, because of her chosen activities, the court decisions by Justice Thomas will be based not on his own personal and honest interpretations of the law but on the opinions and advocacy activities of his spouse? Talk about calling a guy henpecked!!! That is rather much of a personal insult, don’t you think?

  20. Censored bybvbl

    Wolverine, Justice Thomas always has the option of resigning and then Ginni can pursue whatever career she pleases. 😉

  21. George S. Harris


    “And can we then assume that, because of her chosen activities, the court decisions by Justice Thomas will be based not on his own personal and honest interpretations of the law but on the opinions and advocacy activities of his spouse?”

    How would we know–Thomas rarely utters a word–is it a case of better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it an remove all doubt?

    And yes the public does have some right of expectation when it comes to the careers of the spouses of public figures, particularly when that figure is one of an elite group that has a lifetime appointment to one of the highest judicial positions in the land. To think that Thomas’ decisions are not influenced by things he discusses with his wife is to believe in the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny. “Pillow talk” is a very powerful.

  22. He is free to resign if being a supreme court justice cramps her style.

    Wolverine, would you use the word ‘henpecked’ if say, Mr. O’Connor wanted to work in a job that was in conflict with Sandra Day O’Connor’s position on the Supreme Court? Would that make her rooster pecked if we suggested she give up her position if it were something he really wanted to do?

    From the Washington Post: (speaking of John O’Connor)

    He was a partner at one of Phoenix’s largest firms, Fennemore, Craig, von Ammon & Udall, before moving to

    Washington after his wife was confirmed to the high court in 1981. He continued to practice law with the firms Miller & Chevalier and Bryan Cave, from which he retired in 2003, all the while maintaining a low public profile.

    He declined to talk about his unusual role as the man behind one of the country’s most powerful women. “I’ve just decided to refrain from publicly commenting on the subject unless I want to spend the rest of my life being interviewed,” he told the New York Times in 1981. “It’s a significant office that my wife holds, and I think it is something different from other offices. In my judgment, it is not something I should get into.”

    The above is how it should be done. However, the O’Connors had some class and ethics.

    The Thomases should perhaps review the distinguished career of Sandra Day O’Connor and her husband if they need a role model.

  23. @George S. Harris

    I totally agree with you, George. And it has nothing to do with gender, as Wolverine suggests. It doesn’t matter if it is the little man or the little woman. Behavior of SCOTUS spouses is almost as important as the behavior of a first lady (or gentleman if there ever is one.) An elite position requires special restraints. As Moe stated, being the general is not a right. However, once a ‘supreme’ is in place, its ‘until death do we part’ or retirement, should the supreme chose to retire.

  24. Actually, Chief Justice Roberts needs to step in here and take some corrective action. Perhaps all of them need to police their own group and formalize their own rules that heretofore have relied on tradition.

  25. BoyThreeOne

    As the article points out, Ginni Thomas uses her “connections” and “insider” status as marketing tools. She doesn’t present herself as an independent agent apart from her husband’s realm of influence. She capitalizes on the relationship, however obliquely (or not). This is hardly an issue of condemning a modern woman for having a career. The career in question is a political one that actively seeks to influence and alter our country’s direction according to the narrow tenets of the most extreme conservatism. And her husband is speaking at Koch Brother strategy gatherings, hardly a sign of spousal disagreement in terms of ideology. If none of this raises a red flag in regards to judicial impropriety, what does?

  26. Morris Davis


    An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should maintain and enforce high standards of conduct and should personally observe those standards, so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved.

    An appearance of impropriety occurs when reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the judge’s honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge is impaired. Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety.

    A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances in which: the judge knows that the judge, individually or as a fiduciary, or the judge’s spouse or minor child residing in the judge’s household, has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be affected substantially by the outcome of the proceeding.

    “The [U.S. Supreme Court] Justices are not bound by the Code of Conduct [for United States Judges], but they look to it for guidance.”

    – Spokesperson for the U.S. Supreme Court Public Information Office, June 15, 2008

    I’m not aware of anyone else on the federal payroll in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches who is not subject to a code of conduct or rules of ethics.

  27. Wolverine

    I am not taking a hard position on this either way. I am just saying that we have had a sea change with regard to many of the ways in which we view proper conduct in this society and that sea change is bound to bring opposing viewpoints into conflict. I also think that we as commentators on the sidelines are far too ready these days to impugn the honesty of others without having the least bit of hard evidence of wrong doing or even being close enough to the individual in question to have a valid opinion on their inner thought processes. In my view, every citizen does have a responsibility to ask serious questions of our governmental officials and ask for some answers; but I would posit that these questions should remain questions and not contain accusations of wrong doing unless we can back those accusations up with real proof.

    Moreover, I think that all sides in the political spectrum have begun to intermix far too often legitimate questioning with political and idelogical bias. To be rather blunt, I have the distinct impression that the questions being raised about the activities of Justice Thomas are valid in that the tax issue must be resolved according to law and that the questions of decorum can be addressed by the Thomases and, if necessary, by the SCOTUS as a whole. However, I think that the sly implication that Justice Thomas may be committing some sort of malfeasance in his application of law to cases before the court is nothing short of slander unless you can can show me the exact incidents in which this has happened and have solid proof of the matter. And, if you endeavor to show me such instances, are you sure that these do not contain an underlying reflection of your own ideological unhappiness with his vote on the case rather than being an actual and valid example of malfeasance in office? Thus far, I have seen no specific case presented which would convict Justice Thomas in any legal court. What I suspect I am seeing is a use of this particular avenue of attack as a means to undermine the stature of Justice Thomas because certain people do not agree with his personal views on the Constitution and want to eliminate him as one of the five SCOTUS votes now so critical in many cases. I also suspect that, even if the issues currently under discussion were resolved to satisfaction ( the tax issue and a change in decorum), those who are against him would only step back and look for the next avenue by which he can be attacked. That means to me that the attacks are more ideological than predicated solely on umbrage over some set of societal standards.

    What I am taking the liberty of doing here is engaging in a general scold, not one coming from a particular bias. I take the same attitude toward those who continue to push the “birther” issue and those who keep making references to the “socialist” bent of the current President’s political thought processes. I do not in any way seek to silence someone because I am a strong believer in free speech. But, if you want to convince me of anything, you had better have the proof in hand before you start shouting out the accusations and condemning your target out of hand. In the case of the latter, I will always look at you with the following question in mind: Is this a legitimate, transparent, and supportable complaint or is there an ideological bias at the root of it?

    O.K. There you have. The Wolverine rant of the day. Back to the family tree work. But I am getting very short tempered with ideological head bashing which tends far too frequently to sneak into any discourse in disguise. If you do not agree with a person’s ideology, say so. If you do not agree with a person’s political decisions, say so. I welcome that kind of discussion. But, if you are going to constantly accuse your opponent of malfeasance without having proof, you will begin to remind me of Madame LaFarge sitting right next to the guillotine, working her knitting needles, and grinning to beat all Hell. That goes for everybody all over the contemporary political spectrum. I did not spend a lifetime defending this country and its people, only to come home and find that our political system is beginning to degenerate into a imitation of many the places abroad where I worked.

  28. The Thomases need to make sure that they are above reproach on all counts. Obviously, they haven’t been or we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Americans should always question behavior they feel isn’t on the up and up, especially when it comes from public officials iun high places.

    I would go so far as to say the the spouses of Supreme Court justices should just not have political jobs.

  29. It is obvious that Wolverine didn’t read any of the information Moe posted regarding THE CODE OF CONDUCT OF UNITED STATES JUDGES. Inasmuchas there is no similar code for Supreme Court justices (who would write it–our upright and ethical congress?), the REASONABLE MAN/WOMAN/PERSON rule must apply here. If a REASONABLE MAN/WOMAN/PERSON perceives that the actions of a a justice may be influenced by those outside the “system” then that justice’s ability to serve has been compromised.

    Wolverine writes that he does not come from, “a particular bias.” I would absolutely disagree–he is as ultraconservative as Justice Thomas. Why else would he be defending him? I would say the guilty fox smells his own hole first.

  30. Morris Davis

    An odd fact … Justice Thomas hasn’t asked a question during oral arguments for 5 years and he’s expected to keep his record streak going when the Court returns from its Winter break.

  31. Wolverine

    George, I defend him on principle and out of personal experience. So stop with your silly accusations. I so happens that I was once caught in a major squeeze at a very high level of government in a very similar case. An important nomination before the Senate was at stake. Those on the Hlll had come up with some very damaging information which might well have caused the nomination to be withdrawn. I did not like the nominee. We were polar opposites in our views and our approaches. He had a major track record that told me he would be major trouble in the position for which he was nominated. He could well have been downed by just that confirmation from me that the data they had on him was correct. On the surface everything my staff collected for me showed that the data was correct. It would have been so simple to let it go. But something was nagging at me. I shooed the staff away, took all the paper on the case and went through it myself. It was then that I came up with the real answer: a case of mistaken identity. With that I put my foot down under pressure from the Hill. In the end, the nomination got through. For my efforts I wound up with an angry senator calling me a liar and a guy in office who was trouble every minute. But I did come away with a clear conscience, for surely somewhere down the line I would have discovered the mistake. I am speaking purely from conscience here, and you choose to give me nothing more than just another ration of your glib and insulting bull crap.

    1. @Wolverine, the issue here is that you remove yourself from any question of impropriety. If you remain above it all, no one can criticize you. I would say the same thing for all 9 of them.

      The entire idea of lobbying deals with influence. That is why it isn’t a good idea for a Supreme Court Justice to have a spouse in the influence business.

      We are talking common sense here, not making accusations of anything specific.

  32. Wolverine

    Oh, yes, Moon, the accusations are there. Spouse an activist=husband being unduly influenced. Off with his head. But one of the elements behind it seems to me to be a very deep disagreement with the man’s basic judicial philosophy. Cato’s first comment was correct. I too think that we will find that this Moonhowlings thread is not a stand-alone thing. Do not consider me to be naive about that. I dealt with it very much in my previous business. My one-time foes practically invented this particular game. I was on that particular battlefield a long time. I saw this tactic at work often. I can smell the smoke.

  33. Morris Davis

    This independence of the judges is equally requisite to guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals from the effects of those ill humors, which the arts of designing men, or the influence of particular conjunctures, sometimes disseminate among the people themselves, and which, though they speedily give place to better information, and more deliberate reflection, have a tendency, in the meantime, to occasion dangerous innovations in the government, and serious oppressions of the minor party in the community… The benefits of the integrity and moderation of the judiciary have already been felt in more States than one; and though they may have displeased those whose sinister expectations they may have disappointed, they must have commanded the esteem and applause of all the virtuous and disinterested. Considerate men, of every description, ought to prize whatever will tend to beget or fortify that temper in the courts: as no man can be sure that he may not be tomorrow the victim of a spirit of injustice, by which he may be a gainer today. And every man must now feel, that the inevitable tendency of such a spirit is to sap the foundations of public and private confidence, and to introduce in its stead universal distrust and distress… Hence it is, that there can be but few men in the society who will have sufficient skill in the laws to qualify them for the stations of judges. And making the proper deductions for the ordinary depravity of human nature, the number must be still smaller of those who unite the requisite integrity with the requisite knowledge… The standard of good behavior for the continuance in office of the judicial magistracy, is certainly one of the most valuable of the modern improvements in the practice of government. In a monarchy it is an excellent barrier to the despotism of the prince; in a republic it is a no less excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body. And it is the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws.

    – Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 78, June 14, 1788

  34. Wolverine

    Good shot, Moe. Philosophically I would have to agree. But, once again, it comes down to proving whether a person has actually and truly violated his position and solemn oath through undue outside influence. Appearances in the eyes of certain others is not proof of guilt. So all I ask is that you put on your prosecutorial hat once again and show us the specifics on how Justice Thomas is guilty of violating his oath. The last I heard we have not arrived at a point where we can condemn others by using quotes from Alexander Hamilton.

    Ahem, as I recall, there is another guy who was relieved of duty not long ago under what seems to me to have been a base charge of violating the established rules of decorum between his organization and the Congress. And this guy has filed a lawsuit claiming he was wronged. And, having read up a bit on the case, I tend to support the guy who has filed the lawsuit. But, that’s just me.

    Hah, how many times have I seen conservatives taken to task for invoking the Founding Fathers in argument these days. The frequent response seems to be: “This isn’t your Daddy’s country anymore.” But, when somebody on the other side finds a quote from the Founding Fathers which might prove useful in their own argument….Well, what heck. No slam. Legitimate effort, I say.

  35. Morris Davis

    Wolverine – I offered what Hamilton wrote about the Judicial Branch in the Federalist Papers just to point out that the notion of justice that’s independent, impartial, free of outside influence, and centered on intellect and integrity isn’t some liberal contrivance of recent origin, but a fundamental principle of the Founding Fathers that goes back 222 years. As for your insistence on “proof of guilty,” if you want to set the threshold of acceptable conduct for public employees at the conviction of a crime level and rely on the altruistic nature of people to regulate behavior short of that then the government could abolish the various codes of conduct, rules of ethics and professional responsibility, and procurement integrity standards that apply in the various branches, eliminate the Office of Government Ethics and the Office of Special Counsel, and dismiss a majority of the staff in the Inspector General offices throughout the government. I believe – and Hamilton did too – that public confidence in judicial impartiality sets a minimum standard that doesn’t have to rise to the level of a felony (or a misdemeanor for that matter).

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