Friday, November 18, 2011

Scalia and Thomas dine with healthcare law challengers as court takes case

Imagine you were on the eve of a bitter civil trial against a huge corporation with deep pockets and the presiding judge is dining, partying and fundraising with the attorneys defending said corporation.

You would be correct to yell at the top of your lungs, this is a foul breach of ethics.

You would be in the scope of your rights to bring charges of Judicial Misconduct to any judicial governing body.

To be more precise, this would be a gross conflict of interest and it would contaminate the judge's ability to convey impartiality.

Apparently, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Anton Scalia believe they are beyond reproach...

The day the Supreme Court gathered behind closed doors to consider the politically divisive question of whether it would hear a challenge to President Obama’s healthcare law, two of its justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, were feted at a dinner sponsored by the law firm that will argue the case before the high court.

The lawyer who will stand before the court and argue that the law should be thrown out is likely to be Paul Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration.

Clement’s law firm, Bancroft PLLC, was one of almost two dozen firms that helped sponsor the annual dinner of the Federalist Society, a longstanding group dedicated to advocating conservative legal principles. Another firm that sponsored the dinner, Jones Day, represents one of the trade associations that challenged the law, the National Federation of Independent Business.

Another sponsor was pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc, which has an enormous financial stake in the outcome of the litigation. The dinner was held at a Washington hotel hours after the court's conference over the case. In attendance was, among others, Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican and an avowed opponent of the healthcare law.

The featured guests at the dinner? Scalia and Thomas.

Bob Edgar, President and CEO of the Common Cause, responded to this appalling ethics violation by stating:

“This stunning breach of ethics and indifference to the code belies claims by several justices that the court abides by the same rules that apply to all other federal judges. The justices were wining and dining at a black-tie fundraiser with attorneys who have pending cases before the court. Their appearance and assistance in fundraising for this event undercuts any claims of impartiality, and is unacceptable.”source

This is not new territory for Scalia or Thomas. Thomas has been under-fire for both being too cozy with the Koch brothers and zealous Tea Party activism on the part of his wife before:

...the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and she has launched a tea-party-linked group that could test the traditional notions of political impartiality for the court.

In January, Virginia Thomas created Liberty Central Inc., a nonprofit lobbying group whose website will organize activism around a set of conservative "core principles," she said.

The group plans to issue score cards for Congress members and be involved in the November election, although Thomas would not specify how. She said it would accept donations from various sources -- including corporations -- as allowed under campaign finance rules recently loosened by the Supreme Court.

"I adore all the new citizen patriots who are rising up across this country," Thomas, who goes by Ginni, said on the panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "I have felt called to the front lines with you, with my fellow citizens, to preserve what made America great."

The move by Virginia Thomas, 52, into the front lines of politics stands in marked contrast to the rarefied culture of the nation's highest court, which normally prizes the appearance of nonpartisanship and a distance from the fisticuffs of the politics of the day.

Hopefully, the tide of overwhelming public disgust and backlash against Thomas and Scalia will pressure these Justices to recuse themselves from any and all litigation regarding the constitutionality of Health Care pending in front of the Supreme Court.


  1. "Hopefully, the tide of overwhelming public disgust and backlash against Thomas and Scalia will pressure these Justices to recuse themselves from any and all litigation regarding the constitutionality of Health Care pending in front of the Supreme Court."

    Hahahahaha! You're kidding, right?

    These brazen, arrogant scum have long ago learned that Congress does not have the balls to stand up to them, so they will forever keep right on doing whatever the hell they want. Count on it.

    I'm so glad someone tweeted your blog. Thanks for what you're doing to further our democracy.


  2. @Jill...constitutionally, how can congress do anything to a sitting justice?

  3. @Jill thanks for ur comments...To start the GOP is already trying to pressure Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to recuse herself:

    "Conservatives are calling for Kagan, a more liberal voter, to recuse herself because of her work as a solicitor general in the Obama administration in which she had to push in favor of the healthcare reform. Among those calling for her to recuse herself is Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), a longtime staple of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Hatch told The Hill that “it would be most appropriate for Kagan to decline participation in cases on healthcare reform,” because of her role as solicitor general."

    So it is only fitting that we begin the drum roll for Thomas and Scalia...


  4. @namg... I wondered the same thing, what can congress do to a sitting Supreme Court justice, read on my friend:
    The only justice ever removed involuntarily from the Supreme Court was John Rutledge, whose recess appointment (an appointment where the "advice and consent" of the Senate is deferred until the next session) as Chief Justice was rejected because the Senate was concerned about his mental status. He officially served only from July 1, 1795 - December 28, 1795.
    Supreme Court justices can also be impeached, if they commit "high crimes and misdemeanors," which would include any serious legal infraction (not traffic tickets) or ethics violation.
    Impeachment is a two-step process; the impeachment phase is similar to a Grand Jury hearing, where charges (called "articles of impeachment") are presented and the House of Representatives determines whether the evidence is sufficient to warrant a trial. If the House vote passes by a simple majority, the defendant is "impeached," and proceeds to trial in the Senate.
    The Senate trial, while analogous to a criminal trial, only convenes for the purpose of determining whether a Justice (or other officeholder) should be removed from office on the basis of the evidence presented at impeachment. The Senate must return a 2/3 Super Majority for conviction.

    Only one Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Chase (one of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence), has ever been impeached. The House of Representatives accused Chase of letting his Federalist political leanings affect his rulings, and served him with eight articles of impeachment in late 1804. The Senate acquitted him of all charges in 1805, establishing the right of the judiciary to independent opinion. Chase continued on the Court until his death in June 1811.
    Abe Fortas, who served on the Supreme Court from 1965-1969, was almost impeached due to a tax and financial scandal involving Wall Street financier, Louis Wolfson. Fortas was a Lyndon Johnson appointment. When the new President, Richard Nixon, learned of the scandal, he reportedly said Fortas should be "off of there," referring to the Supreme Court. The House of Representatives had already taken preliminary steps toward impeachment.
    Chief Justice Earl Warren urged Justice Fortas to resign, to save the reputation of the Court. Fortas resisted at first, but eventually told other members of the Court he was stepping down to avoid damaging his wife's legal career. Later, he admitted another reason for leaving the Court was to save his friend, William O. Douglas, who was also under investigation for judicial impropriety.

    The House of Representatives finally concluded Douglas had committed no impeachable offenses and dropped the investigation.

    Read more: