The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: clarence thomas

A Million Americans Sign Petition To Impeach Clarence Thomas

Only once in the history of the United States has a Supreme Court jurist faced impeachment. The lone instance occurred in 1804 when Associate Justice Samuel Chase was put on trial in the Senate after charges were brought by the House of Representatives. According to Senate records, Chase was accused of "refusing to dismiss biased jurors and of excluding or limiting defense witnesses in two politically sensitive cases." He was acquitted in 1805.

The process of removing a sitting Justice from the nation's highest legal authority is the same as extracting an incumbent president. The Constitution requires a simple majority in the House to approve an investigation into alleged "high crimes and misdemeanors," and two-thirds of the Senate to convict.

Now, nearly 200 years later, the demand to impeach Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is surging.


On Sunday, a petition drafted and circulated by MoveOn.org surpassed a million signatures. And the tally is still growing.

The basis for impeaching Thomas rests on three main points: previous suspicions of corruption, his unambiguous desire to strip American citizens of their civil rights, and conflicts of interest stemming from his wife Ginni's right-wing activism and participation in former President Donald Trump's plot to subvert the 2020 election.

The petition states:

The right-wing rigged Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week, effectively taking away the right to privacy and bodily autonomy that's been considered legal precedent for the past 50 years. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—who sided with the majority on overturning Roe—made it clear what's next: to overturn high court rulings that establish gay rights and contraception rights.

Thomas voted against a Supreme Court decision to compel the release of Donald Trump's records regarding the January 6 insurrection and attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Thomas' failure to recuse himself warrants immediate investigation and heightened alarm. And it's only the latest in a long history of conflicts of interest in the service of a right-wing agenda and mixing his powerful role with his conservative political activism. He has shown he cannot be an impartial justice and is more concerned with covering up his wife's coup attempts than the health of the Supreme Court.

He must resign—or Congress must immediately investigate and impeach.

But no matter how many signatures the campaign amasses, the decision to pursue a case against Thomas ultimately belongs to Congress. Considering the current makeup of both chambers, coupled with the ongoing probe into the events of January 6th, 2021, the chance of impeachment proceedings emerging is remote.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Poll: Public Distrust Of Supreme Court Now Matches Disapproval Of Congress

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A majority of Americans hold a negative opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court following its decision last week to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that recognized a right to abortion, says a Reuters/Ipsos survey completed on Tuesday.

The two-day public opinion poll found 57 percent of Americans had an unfavorable view of the U.S. top court, while 43 percent viewed it favorably. That puts approval of the court, which is meant to be a nonpartisan entity, on a par with Americans' views of Congress, which has long been viewed negatively.

It also marks a significant shift from a June 6-7 Reuters/Ipsos poll that showed 48 percent had an unfavorable view and 52 percent a favorable view.

Some 27 percent of respondents had a very unfavorable view of the court, up from 14 percent who held that view earlier in the month.

The reversal was almost entirely because of increasingly dismal views of the court among Democrats, often more supportive of abortion rights than Republicans are.

Sixty percent of Democrats said they had a less favorable view of the Supreme Court than they had six months ago, compared to 23 percent of Republicans.

The conservative-dominated Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling recognizing women's constitutional right to abortion. The decision, hailed by conservative activists as a great victory, will dramatically change life for millions of women in America.

In a concurring opinion on Friday, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush, suggested that the same reasoning that led the court to overturn Roe could be used to rethink other rights, such as same-sex marriage and access to birth control.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has condemned the ruling. Democratic lawmakers hope the abortion rights setback will help drive Democrats to the polls in the November 8 midterm elections, when Republicans have good odds of winning control of one or both congressional chambers.

Some 55 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a separate Ipsos poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday.

Both polls were conducted online in English throughout the United States. Each gathered responses from 1,005 adults and had a credibility interval - a measure of precision - of four percentage points.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)

Clarence Thomas Warns He’s Coming For All Your Rights (Except Guns)

A new analysis is breaking down Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion in the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg explained how Thomas' remarks appear to suggest that the abortion ban could only be the beginning of the conservative attack on civil rights.

According to Stolberg, Thomas "laid out a vision that fomented fears about what other rights could disappear: The same rationale that the Supreme Court used to declare there was no right to abortion, he said, should also be used to overturn cases establishing rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations, and same-sex marriage."

Although Justice Samuel A. Alito's majority opinion insists the ruling on abortion “should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion,” Stolberg emphasized that Thomas also argued that the court's majority does not view abortion as "a form of 'liberty' protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution."

She went on to note three cases that he used as an example to support his arguments as they were ruled upon according to the same line of reasoning. Stolberg noted that Thomas "took aim at three other landmark cases that relied on that same legal reasoning: Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 decision that declared married couples had a right to contraception; Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case invalidating sodomy laws and making same-sex sexual activity legal across the country; and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case establishing the right of gay couples to marry."

She continued, "Justice Thomas wrote that the court 'should reconsider' all three decisions, saying it had a duty to 'correct the error' established in those precedents. Then, he said, after 'overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions” protected the rights they established.'"


Stolberg noted that Thomas' language is a prime example of the epitome of what abortion and LGBTQ advocates have expressed concern about. Advocates have repeatedly warned that the overturn of Roe v. Wade would only be the beginning of a conservative attack that could subsequently lead to attacks on "the right to contraception and same-sex marriage."

The critical assessment of Thomas' remarks comes as the liberal SCOTUS justices also express their dissent regarding the unprecedented ruling. As reports began circulating about the ruling, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan weighed in with their remarks

“With sorrow ― for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection ― we dissent,” wrote Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

The statement comes in wake of conservative justices' ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which will subsequently regress federal abortion laws back nearly half a century.

“Today, the Court discards that balance,” the justices wrote. “It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Ginni Thomas Pressured Arizona Lawmakers To Overturn 2020 Election

Far right wing activist, lobbyist, and spouse of a U.S. Supreme Court justice, Ginni Thomas pressed lawmakers in Arizona to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. In emails she urged them to “stand strong in the face of political and media pressure,” and send a “clean slate” of electors, falsely claiming the choice is “yours and yours alone.”

“The emails, sent by Ginni Thomas to a pair of lawmakers on Nov. 9, 2020, argued that legislators needed to intervene because the vote had been marred by fraud. Though she did not mention either candidate by name, the context was clear,” reports The Washington Post, which broke the news Friday. “In sending the emails, Thomas played a role in the extraordinary scheme to keep Trump in office by substituting the will of legislatures for the will of voters.”

“Before you choose your state’s Electors … consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you don’t stand up and lead,” an email bearing Ginni Thomas’ name, sent to the Arizona lawmakers, reads:

It included a link to a video of a man delivering a message meant for swing-state lawmakers, urging them to 'put things right' and 'not give in to cowardice.'

'You have only hours to act,' said the speaker, who is not identified in the video.

Thomas also pressed Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to work to overturn the election, as has been widely reported.Her efforts, combined with Justice Thomas’ actions on the Supreme Court, amount to “breathtaking corruption,” writes Slate’s legal expert Mark Joseph Stern.“The conflict of interest between Ginni and Clarence Thomas has never been greater. While Clarence was applying the ‘independent state legislature doctrine’ from the bench, Ginni was using the exact same theory to try to overturn the 2020 election. Just breathtaking corruption,” Stern says.


He adds:


Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, now an NBC News/MSNBC legal analyst and law professor, issued a strong warning:

“Either Justice Thomas recuses in every case that comes to the Court where his wife is heavily involved in the action or the public’s confidence in the Court will be damaged beyond repair.”


Reuters reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court, Lawrence Hurley:

Former federal corruption prosecutor Noah Bookbinder, who is president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says it is “outrageous” Justice Thomas has refused to recuse:

“New evidence that Ginni Thomas’s participation in efforts to overturn the 2020 election was even greater than we knew; in this case pressure on AZ legislators to overturn that state’s vote. Makes it even more outrageous that Justice Thomas did not recuse.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. “Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona legislators to overturn Biden’s win and choose a ‘clean slate of electors.’ In other words, she supported a coup to overthrow an elected president. What did her husband know?”

Economist and frequent political commentator David Rothschild observes, “Ginni Thomas was conspiring with high ranking Republicans to overturn [the] republic, and her husband was either privy to or actively involved in this conspiracy before using his position to coverup his wife’s role.”

Former SDNY Asst. U.S. Attorney Richard Signorelli sums up:

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Momentum Builds In Congress To ‘Do Something’ About Thomas Misconduct

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a problem for the court, for the nation, and for democracy in general. That’s been true for decades, as long as his deep ties to the dark money swirling around the judiciary, and doesn’t even take into account the extremely partisan activities of his “best friend” and wife Ginni. Since those activities now include attempting to overthrow the government, the problem of Clarence Thomas just got a whole lot more glaring—and congressional leadership has been caught just a bit flat-footed.

Stepping into the void, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the first to use the “I” word. “Clarence Thomas should resign,” she tweeted. “If not, his failure to disclose income from right-wing organizations, recuse himself from matters involving his wife, and his vote to block the Jan 6th commission from key information must be investigated and could serve as grounds for impeachment.”

By all means, the House should start talking about impeachment. That’s what Thomas deserves: the ultimate censure. That’s where to start: the maximum. There’s no real other leverage the other two branches have over the Supreme Court than pressure in the public eye and the threat of action. Chief Justice John Roberts has been aware enough about his personal legacy in his career thus far to make blowing up the Thomas scandal in public—and keeping it there with discussion of impeachment—a smart tactic.

Would the 50-50 Senate convict him? No, but that’s a valuable weapon for Democrats in the upcoming election. Republicans are protecting the Supreme Court justice who has refused to recuse himself from cases involving his wife’s efforts to overthrow the government.

The good news is that Democrats are inching toward something a little more concrete than demanding that Thomas recuse. That’s where they started. A group of House and Senate Democrats, spearheaded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), wrote to the Supreme Court requesting that Thomas recuse himself from any future Jan. 6-related cases, as well as provide a “written explanation for his failure to recuse himself” in previous cases.

“[G]iven the recent disclosures about Ms. Thomas’s efforts to overturn the election and her specific communications with White House officials about doing so, Justice Thomas’s participation in cases involving the 2020 election and the January 6th attack is exceedingly difficult to reconcile with federal ethics requirements,” says the letter obtained by The Washington Post.

The lawmakers also called on Roberts to commit to creating “a binding Code of Conduct for the Supreme Court—the only court in the country not currently subject to a judicial code of ethics—that includes (1) enforceable provisions to ensure that the Justices comply with this Code and (2) a requirement that all Justices issue written recusal decision.” They ask that he do so by April 28.

Which is a fine and appropriate next step, since Thomas will surely refuse to recuse. “He absolutely should recuse himself,” Jayapal told Politico. But, she added, “Clearly the Supreme Court is in need of ethics reforms.”

Jayapal is on the House Judiciary committee, so the ethics reform thing is another possibility. In fact, legislation to impose the Judicial Code of Ethics on the Supreme Court—which is currently exempt from it—would be a good concurrent step for Congress to be taking along with the public pressure campaign to get him to resign. That legislation exists in a bill written by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and should start moving through the committee immediately.

After an ill-conceived dismissal of the issue on Monday by Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin, who suggested there’s no urgency to the Thomas problem, there’s now some momentum there. Durbin had a day to think it over and is now joining Warren in saying lawmakers need to act. Durbin told CNN’s Manu Raju that imposing the ethics code on the Supreme Court is “long overdue.” Warren told him the legislation should include limits on stocks and “rules about other kinds of personal conflicts.” The Senate Democrats are expected to discuss Murphy’s legislation in their conference luncheon Tuesday, Raju reports.

That’s all fine and needs to move apace. At the same time, House Democrats should not rule out pursuing impeachment, which has to initiate in that chamber. Once again, Ocasio-Cortez is pushing Democrats to go there. Remember, she said, that pushing for impeachment of Trump on his extortion of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was initially deemed “unrealistic,” and the “debate was fierce & opposition real.” But, she argues, “When we look back at the decision to impeach Trump over Ukraine today, could you imagine if the naysayers and those claiming to be ‘politically savvier’ won? WE would be explaining why we allowed it to happen instead of the Senate explaining why they acquitted.” That’s on the Senate Republicans.

“Subpoenas, investigations, and impeachment should absolutely be on the table. We shouldn’t have to think twice about that,” she concluded in the thread. “We must go where the facts take us. A failure to act puts the imperiling of democracy squarely on *our* shoulders. It’s our duty to defend it.”

Let the Senate lead on the code of ethics legislation. How are Senate Republicans going to argue about that? The House needs to start those investigations toward impeachment. Both chambers should also be talking now about legislation to expand the court, and to put pressure on President Joe Biden to join as well. If there’s going to be any change, any accountability at the court, it’s not going to come without a big public stink. It’s the only way it’s going to happen.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Apprehending The Supreme Court's Bonnie And Clyde

What is to be done about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his deranged spouse?

That vexed question arose again this week when the Washington Post and CBS News revealed dozens of text messages exchanged by Virginia Thomas, the right-wing jurist's wife, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows during the period following the 2020 election. Those messages spectacularly confirmed what The New Yorker and The New York Times have reported in recent months about Ginni Thomas and her feverish participation in former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn that election.

From her communications with the former president's top aide, Ginni appears to be a disturbed personality who traffics in comic-book conspiracies and disparages political opponents as "evil." Unless he was just humoring her, Meadows displayed a similarly manic disposition, predicting that the "King of Kings" would save Trump's presidency and America. (He was committing voter fraud himself at the time, but that's another story.)

Evidently Mrs. Thomas believed whatever mad claims advanced her partisan will to overturn the 2020 election and keep Trump in office. It seems not to have mattered to her at all when her husband's colleagues on the highest court, including the hardcore conservatives, rejected Trump's claims of voter fraud.

Like many on the Republican Right, where she has a long history of dubious activity, Mrs. Thomas had decided in advance that any election result displeasing to her was by definition crooked. Of course, that position is itself inherently fraudulent — but such bad faith has been endemic among so-called conservatives for decades.

On Nov. 5, 2020, the day after the election, Mrs. Thomas sent Meadows a link to a YouTube video titled "TRUMP STING w CIA Director Steve Pieczenik, The Biggest Election Story in History, QFS-BLOCKCHAIN." A former employee of the State Department, Pieczenik is one of those right-wing fabulists who dismissed the 2012 school massacre of children in Newtown, Connecticut, as a "false-flag" deception. In the video sent by Mrs. Thomas, Pieczenik appeared on InfoWars, the Alex Jones conspiracy broadcast, to proclaim that Trump had somehow marked every 2020 mail ballot with an "encryption code" in a "sting operation" against the Democratic Party.

"I hope this is true; never heard anything like this before, or even a hint of it," she wrote to Meadows. "Possible???..Watermarked ballots in over 12 states have been part of a huge Trump & military white hat sting operation in 12 key battleground states." She also forwarded news that the "Biden crime family" and various other officials and journalists were "being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition."

None of it was "possible" or even coherent. Yet such were her frothing messages, often recirculating the latest lunacy from the QAnon conspiracy cult. She was a big fan of Sidney Powell, the Trump lawyer kicked out after declaring that President Joe Biden's victory was covertly engineered by communists in Venezuela and China. Her firing puzzled poor Ginni.

Now, all this mindless maundering would be solely a matter for psychiatric intervention, except that Ginni Thomas is married to a Supreme Court justice. Specifically, the only justice who dissented from the high court's decision on the Trump election case — and later held that Trump could withhold White House documents, including those we now know might implicate his wife, from the House Select Committee investigating the attempt to overturn the election.

Did he know what his wife was doing — or how his rulings might affect her and the right-wing groups that were in some cases paying her? In The New Yorker, reporter Jane Mayer made a convincing argument that Justice Thomas must have known about the hysterically seditious antics of his "best friend." In case after case that implicated her interests, he not only failed to recuse himself but didn't even disclose his obvious conflict.

Clarence and Ginni Thomas can play these sleazy games because, bizarrely enough, the Supreme Court is not subject to the federal code of judicial conduct. Any judge on a lower court who behaved like him would be subject to discipline and possibly removal.

The time has come for Congress to pass legislation that would restore the highest court's honor, dignity and credibility by bringing it under the ethics code. That process can begin with hearings in the House and Senate judiciary committees on the matter of Clarence Thomas. If he won't resign and can't be impeached, his gross misconduct must at least be publicly exposed.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.