Over the past several weeks, liberals have attacked Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts for “ethics violations.” The reason is so clearly partisan that it’s almost laughable if it weren’t so sad, especially in light of the left’s favorite Justice doing far worse.
The Wall Street Journal explained the “scandal” in this way: “The left’s assault on the Supreme Court is continuing, and the latest front is the news that Justice Clarence Thomas has a rich friend who has hosted the Justice on his private plane, his yacht, and his vacation resort. That’s it. That’s the story. Yet this non-bombshell has triggered breathless claims that the Court must be investigated, and that Justice Thomas must resign or be impeached. Those demands give away the real political game here.
ProPublica, a left-leaning website, kicked off the fun with a report Thursday that Justice Thomas has a longtime friendship with Harlan Crow, a wealthy Texas real-estate developer. The intrepid reporters roamed far and wide to discover that the Justice has sometimes traveled on Mr. Crow’s “Bombardier Global 5000 jet” and that each summer the Justice and his wife spend a vacation week at Mr. Crow’s place in the Adirondacks.
The piece is loaded with words and phrases intended to convey that this is all somehow disreputable: “superyacht”; “luxury trips”; “exclusive California all-male retreat”; “sprawling ranch”; “private chefs”; “elegant accommodation”; “opulent lodge”; “lavishing the justice with gifts.” And more.
Adjectival overkill is the method of bad polemicists who don’t have much to report. The ProPublica writers suggest that Justice Thomas may have violated ethics rules, and they quote a couple of cherry-picked ethicists to express their dismay.
But it seems clear that the Court’s rules at the time all of this happened did not require that gifts of personal hospitality be disclosed. This includes the private plane trips. ProPublica fails to make clear to readers that the U.S. Judicial Conference recently changed its rules to require more disclosure. The new rules took effect last month.
More recently, liberals have gotten upset that Thomas’s wealthy friend paid for the school tuition of the Justice’s troubled great nephew, Mark Martin, whom the Thomases took in when he was six years old.
After the hit piece by ProPublica was published, Mark Paoletta, a longtime friend of Clarence Thomas who has also served as Ginni Thomas’ lawyer, released a statement, saying. “Harlan Crow’s tuition payments made directly to these schools on behalf of Justice Thomas’s great nephew did not constitute a reportable gift. Justice Thomas was not required to disclose the tuition payments made directly to Randolph Macon and the Georgia school on behalf of his great nephew because the definition of a “dependent child” under the Ethics in Government Act (5 U.S.C. 13101 (2)) does not include a “great nephew.” It is limited to a “son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter.” Justice Thomas never asked Harlan Crow to pay for his great nephew’s tuition. And neither Harlan Crow, nor his company, had any business before the Supreme Court.
This malicious story shows nothing except for the fact that the Thomases and the Crows are kind, generous, and loving people who tried to help this young man.
STATEMENT OF MARK PAOLETTA, FRIEND OF JUSTICE THOMAS
The Thomases have rarely spoken publicly about the remarkably generous efforts to help a child in need. They have always respected the privacy of this young man and his family. It is disappointing and painful, but unsurprising…
— Mark Paoletta (@MarkPaoletta) May 4, 2023
ProPublica noted that Martin, now in his 30s said he was not aware that Thomas’s friend had paid his tuition. “But he defended Thomas and Crow, saying he believed there was no ulterior motive behind the real estate magnate’s largesse over the decades. He said, “I think his intentions behind everything is just a friend and just a good person.”
The big scoop that Clarence Thomas has a rich friend was followed by an even bigger reveal that the wife of Chief Justice John Roberts has a job. Business Insider dropped the bombshell that Jane Roberts, herself a high-powered lawyer before her husband joined the Supreme Court, ” was paid more than $10 million by a host of elite law firms, a whistleblower alleges.”
That certainly is a lot of money, except it really isn’t when you realize in reading the story that the $10 million wasn’t for her work on one job, but rather all of her earnings since 2005 when Roberts joined the Court, which works out to less than what her husband makes in salary.
All of the hit pieces lacked a major point: which rulings were these supposed “ethics violations” supposed to change?
Attacks on both conservative justices are obviously intended to undermine future rulings as liberal activists try to delegitimize the Court. They are trying to make up for the fact that they could not undermine the American justice system through potential assassination threats that sent some justices, ie the conservative ones, into hiding before the overturning of Roe v Wade.
But, as always, the loudest opponents to conservatives tend to be quiet once their own idols face scrutiny. The Daily Wire, reminding the left that in hardball politics, the other team gets to bat too, did some investigating of their own, looking into the finances of liberal Supreme Court Justices, and lo and behold, they found a doozy–one that actually looks like a conflict of interest.
The outlet shows that liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not recuse herself from multiple copyright infringement cases involving book publisher Penguin Random House despite receiving millions of dollars from them.
“In 2010, she got a $1.2 million book advance from Knopf Doubleday Group, a part of the conglomerate. In 2012, she reported receiving two advance payments from the publisher totaling $1.9 million.
In 2013, Sotomayor voted in a decision for whether the court should hear a case against the publisher called Aaron Greenspan v. Random House, despite then-fellow Justice Stephen Breyer recusing after also receiving money from the publisher. Greenspan was a Harvard classmate of Mark Zuckerberg’s who wrote a book about the founding of Facebook and contended that Random House rejected his book proposal and then awarded a deal to another author who copied his book and eventually turned it into the movie The Social Network.
In 2017, Sotomayor began receiving payments each year from Penguin Random House itself, which continued annually through at least 2021, the most recent disclosure available, and totaled more than $500,000. In all, she received $3.6 million from Penguin Random House or its subsidiaries, according to a Daily Wire tally of financial disclosures.
In October 2019, children’s author Jennie Nicassio petitioned the Supreme Court to hear her lawsuit against Penguin Random House, alleging that the book publisher had copied her book by selling one that was nearly identical. On the same day that the petition was distributed to the justices, Sotomayor received a $10,586 check from the publisher.
On February 24, 2020, the Supreme Court voted not to hear the case, denying the “writ of certiorari” and meaning that the case would remain where it left off — with a circuit court having found in the publisher’s favor. Sotomayor’s next check, coming in May of that year, was her largest ever from the parent company, at $82,807.”
Again, Justice Stephen Breyer recused himself because he and his wife also received money from the publisher.
Sotomayor got $3 million from a company…on whom she then RULED A CASE ON.
So that is some friendship! https://t.co/zGFpTegkrO
— Pradheep J. Shanker (@Neoavatara) May 4, 2023
For some reason, that story isn’t being published all over the internet with cable news segments devoted to it.