Oakland, Ca. (Feature; Special to Informed Comment) – Clarence and Ginni Thomas have been the “King and Queen of Conflict of Interest” since his controversial confirmation. The extent and brazenness of Thomas’ public graft is astonishing. His long-time benefactor and “sponsor” Harlan Crow is no garden variety Republican donor or “kingmaker,” but a Nazi-loving, autocrat-worshipping, influence buying and peddling threat to our system of government, and one of the poster boys for Citizens United. The behavior of both men illustrates the arrogance of the Republican mindset since President Ronald Reagan that common disclosure laws and other political checks don’t apply to them. They rationalize a sense of crusaders with a religious zeal, in pursuit of a judicial and legislative supermajority. Thomas received 20 years’ worth of undisclosed gifts from Crow; this alone should have triggered a federal ethics investigation long ago, aside from similar violations. It included expense free trips on luxury yachts, private jets, exotic resorts and the secretive Bohemian Grove in Northern California.
The breadth and depth of Crow’s financial relationship with Clarence and Ginni Thomas is so deeply entwined, it would be ludicrous to argue that it was not politically motivated, never impacted Thomas’ votes and arguments before the Court. Or that it had no influence on Crow’s industrial interests that had business before the Court. “Members of Congress are generally prohibited from taking gifts worth $50 or more and would need pre-approval from an ethics committee to take many of the trips Thomas has accepted from Crow,” while the Supreme Court Justices are presumed to be held to a higher standard by their insulation by lifetime tenure. While none of Crow’s companies had cases before the Court during Thomas’ tenure, some involved industries where he was invested.
MSNBC: “Shaub: ‘No excuse’ for Justice Clarence Thomas’s failure to disclose financial deals”
It is not as if there were no warning signs. Anita Hill was right! He was a creepy boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Clarence Thomas has always been an ego-driven power monger; abusing his standing to enrich himself, and manipulate people into a sense of obligation or helplessness. We can thank former MO Senator John Danforth for inflicting Thomas upon the American judicial system as his sponsor in the Senate, and for leading the way to defame and discredit Ms. Hill. Danforth also mentored Josh Hawley. To a lesser extent, President Joe Biden also has egg on his face over this as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, but he’s done some penance on the way to the presidency.
Anita Hill endured a public and deeply personal crucifixion during Thomas’ confirmation hearing. She had the audacity as a woman to go before the confirmation committee and allege that Thomas sexually harassed her while he was her supervisor at the Department of Education and EEOC. She was young, very pretty and fresh out of Yale Law School. Thomas’ confirmation was headed for approval by acclamation, until the FBI leaked a private interview with Hill. Then the hearings were then reopened, and Hill was compelled to testify. As with Brett Kavanagh 25 years later, Thomas was promoted to the SCOTUS despite a notoriously “mediocre legal background,” and well documented bad behavior.
The late Chicago columnist Mike Royko, wrote a series of commentaries during the Hill-Thomas drama, holding up committee members to hilarious ridicule, and honoring Hill for her fortitude and courage. He pointed out that some senators presumed to be mind readers and that, “For two days, they have been reading the mind of Professor Anita Hill and saying, in effect, that she is a liar . . . without talking to her or even placing their hands on top of her head to pick up psychic vibrations. Somehow they know . . . that Professor Hill is telling a terrible whopper when she says Judge Clarence Thomas used to hit on her and talk creepy-dirty. And . . . that it is absolutely impossible, incredible and unbelievable that the virtuous Thomas could have done such a thing, and that it is one of the great injustices and tragedies of our time even to suggest that smutty words ever crossed the lips of this great man.”
Hill pointed out in a 2019 interview that in 1991, “Many people viewing the hearings didn’t even realize that sexual harassment was something that was actionable, that they could file a complaint about.” The tone and tenor of Bush Sr.’s presidency was not friendly toward protecting women’s rights to NOT be sexually harassed. As for the Trump presidency, well . . . we now have Brett Kavanagh.
“Clarence Thomas, like Donald Trump, feels he was ‘inoculated’ by the Republican bubble, which has been erected over the last 20 years.” Brett Kavanagh enjoyed the same dynamic of a Republican deep fix, shielding him from credible allegations of sexual harassment as a college and law student. Kavanagh, along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, clearly perjured themselves by fawning over the “settled law” security of Roe v. Wade, which they were nominated to eviscerate. In a more perfectly ordered world, they would also be eligible for impeachment for perjury. But the Senate majority has inoculated them from accountability.
Republicans created deep fixes throughout the American legal system, stacking courts during presidencies of the Bushes and Trump, while sabotaging nominations by Barack Obama. Thomas and the Republican majority have exacted a crusade against the Constitution and most American people, by abetting and prosecuting the most corrupting and draconian aspects of the Republican agenda, such as Citizen’s United.
Ginni Thomas’ direct involvement in working to overturn the 2020 Election should result in criminal sanctions for treason. She sent text messages to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows urging to keep Trump in office and not concede, and actively lobbied Arizona electors to overturn the election. Justice Thomas should be impeached for not recusing himself in the cases involving Trump’s presidential records cases, in which he was the lone dissenter, among others throughout his tenure.
It’s not unfair to say that Crow “bought” Justice Thomas, attested to by the steady stream of lavish gifts, exotic vacations and unusual financial favors. This includes Crow paying Thomas over $130,000 in 2014 for a Savannah, GA home, in which Thomas’ mother continued to live. Any one of these controversies would result in a federal ethics investigation, outside of the bubble of Republican inoculation. As a whole, they add up to habitual abuse of high judicial standing, and impeachment. What’s the threshold?
I believe Biden should invite Ms. Hill to the White House to receive the Medal of Freedom, or similar high award. That could jump-start the process of impeaching Justice Thomas, dramatizing Biden’s own mea culpa for his role, and the urgent need to impeach Thomas. Anita Hill is due a visible public apology from the President, Danforth and all other men who contributed to her public shaming.