Melissa Harris-Perry Calls Out Clarence Thomas

This is a good one. One of the reasons it is critical that Obama win this next election is the opportunity to replace at least 2 justices on the Supreme Court and clean up the cesspool the Rethugs made of that institution.

 

Clarence Thomas Fesses Up on ole in Conservative View of Constitution

No Tommy… The founding fathers didn’t include your black ass in the Constitution…

Thomas concedes that ‘we the people’ didn’t include blacks

It is true, Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledged the other night, that the “we the people” extolled in the Constitution 225 years ago did not include people who looked like him.

But the Declaration of Independence did, he contended, and that was something that a black kid growing up in Savannah, Ga., was told early on.

“There was always this underlying belief that we were entitled to be a full participant in ‘we the people,’ ” Thomas told a crowd at the National Archives last week.

“That’s the way we grew up. It was the way the nuns, who were all immigrants, would explain it to us — that we were entitled, as citizens of this country, to be full participants. There was never any doubt that we were inherently equal. It said so in the Declaration of Independence.”

Thomas submitted to about an hour of extremely gentle questioning from Yale Law School professor Akhil Reed Amar at an event called “The Constitution Turns 225,” co-sponsored by the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center and the conservative Federalist Society.

It was a packed house, drawn perhaps by the chance to see the “silent justice” speak. That’s far more myth than reality, of course.

It is true that Thomas hasn’t asked a question during the court’s oral arguments since 2006. But he speaks regularly to groups and law schools, and he put on a full publicity blitz when his memoir “My Grandfather’s Son” was published in 2007, including a sit-down with “60 Minutes” and a multi-part series on “Nightline.”

Thomas can on occasion be melancholy in his speeches, such as saying he sometimes envies the seemingly carefree lives he sees from his chamber windows. Several years ago, he told a group of high school students that he sometimes gets “morose,” and bucks himself up by reading inspirational speeches or retreating to the basement to watch the movie “Saving Private Ryan.”

He remains distrustful of Washington, although he mentioned during the discussion that he has lived here more than half of his 64 years. He often refers to it as “this city,” and says it is inhabited by ”cynical people who know it all.”

The “unlettered” people he grew up with, especially his grandparents, he said, withstood “the most difficult circumstances with a dignity that’s unmatched in this city.”

Amar repeatedly brought the conversation back to the point that under the original Constitution, people “like us” were not included. And Thomas spoke extensively about race — after noting with sarcasm that “people say horrible things about it — they say I’m not black, so I’m just a little doubtful I should say I’m black.”

“I always think it’s so fascinating to think of these black kids in the segregated school in Savannah reciting the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States or standing out in the schoolyard saying the Pledge of Allegiance every day before school,” Thomas said.

“I mean, everything so obviously in front of you is wrong. You can’t go to the public library. You can’t live in certain neighborhoods. You can’t go to certain schools. But despite all of that, you lived in an environment of people who said it was still our birthright to be included, and continued to push, not only to change the laws, but to maintain that belief in our hearts.”

Thomas also noted a period in his college years in which the belief was not so strong.

The Importance of Anita Hill

Anita Hill has a new book out – and it’s getting some pretty good reviews. Patricia J. Williams is a Law Professor at Columbia University, and what she has to say about the importance of Anita Hill travails at the Clarence Thomas hearings really clarifies a lot of what Hill meant to other professional women…

Anita Hill

The Legacy of Anita Hill, Then and Now

Sad fact: there are few women of my generation who don’t have what is known as our “Anita story.” Mine occurred in 1980. I was five years out of law school and had decided to shift my career from practice to teaching. I was walking down a long hallway at the Association of American Law Schools meat market for new hires. There were two men behind me who were joking about the excellent shape of my legs and the unusually well-defined musculature of my lower quadrants. (Did I mention that it was a very, very long hallway?) At the end of that eternal passage was my appointed interview room. I escaped into it, only to be followed by the two. They, as it turned out, were doing the hiring.

Life was like that sometimes, I thought. And so I went through all the proper motions of expressing how much my fine ideas could contribute to their faculty, pretending that nothing had happened.

I didn’t stop pretending nothing had happened until 1991, when Anita Hill testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the unwanted office approaches of her boss, then-chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Clarence Thomas. I remember how still and dignified she was at the center of that howling hurricane of mockery, meanness and machismo. It was like some psychedelic cross between The Crucible and The Wizard of Oz, with its swirling fantasies of witchcraft, conspiracy theories and mad satyric orgies. I remember everyone from Orrin Hatch to Rush Limbaugh dismissing anything that “might have happened” as “bedroom politics,” even though Hill’s allegations centered on misbehavior in the boardroom, not the bedroom, and even though those allegations implicated precisely Thomas’s public ethics as the chief enforcement officer of sexual harassment laws. “He said, she said” entered the national vocabulary. So did “They just don’t get it.”

Anita Hill graduated from Yale Law School in 1980. The percentage of women in law schools was 38 percent—in contrast to the approximately
50 percent it is today. Back in those times there were so few women among the legal professoriate that many law schools didn’t even have women’s bathrooms. And as for women of color—there were only five or six of us teaching in the entire United States.

If the percentages of women in all professions improved over the next decade or so, the ability to speak up and speak out was often constrained by fear of losing status, ruining one’s career. It was the shockingly abysmal treatment of Anita Hill by the United States Senate that changed all that. Women were mobilized in a way unseen since the time of the suffragettes. EMILY’s List took off, as well as hundreds of networks for women’s political empowerment. Twenty years later, if some men’s behavior has not changed as much as one might have hoped, the collective women’s response has undergone seismic change. It’s not “nothing” anymore.

Patricia J. Williams

Anita Hill remains an icon to whom subsequent generations are rightfully indebted. At the same time, she has not remained trapped by her own symbolism or frozen in time. It is sometimes forgotten that she is a respected scholar of contract jurisprudence, commercial law and education policy. She is a prolific author, publishing numerous law review articles, essays, editorials and books. Today, Hill is a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University. Much of her most recent research has been on the housing market, and her most recent book, published this month, is Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home.

It is ironic that the full substance of Hill’s remarkable intellectual presence remains so overshadowed by those fleeting, if powerful, moments of her Senate testimony. If the larger accomplishments of her life aren’t quite as iconic as that confrontation with Clarence Thomas, they nonetheless merit attention by feminists and scholars alike. To begin with, Hill is a remarkably elegant and accessible writer. For those who wish to apprehend the gravitas of her intelligence and dignity, Reimagining Equality would be a good place to start…(more)

Formal Complaint to Judiciary Committee Filed Against Clarence Thomas

At least some folks are beginning to get serious on Capitol Hill.  Tommie Clarence’s “Pay for Justice” scheme may well be unraveling fast…

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Democrats, demand ethics probe of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

A group of liberal Democrats, led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, will formally ask theHouse Judiciary Committee today to investigate “ethical lapses” by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

At issue is Thomas’ failure to report “at least $1.6 million” in earnings by his wife Virginia for her work at the conservative Heritage Foundation between 2003 and 2007. Virginia Thomas has been one of the most vocal critics of the federal health care law. The Supreme Court will hear a case this term determining the law’s constitutionality.

The letter also asked the committee to examine “air travel and yacht stays and other gifts from wealthy supporters.”

“Reports of potential ethical lapses by Justice Thomas’s actions give rise to concerns about conflicts of interest undermining appellants’ rights of due process and also raise substantive questions about Justice Thomas’s ability to retain his seat,” said the letter, which was written by Blumenauer and will be delivered today.

“We urge that your committee hold hearings regarding the nature of these questions, their factual basis, and their potential to undermine the public’s trust in the Supreme Court,” it says.

During a news conference Wednesday, Blumenauer also said a similar letter will be sent to the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee in coming days.

“Nobody is unaccountable in our system of government and we need to take steps to make sure this is always the case,” he said. “These are fundamental questions about the administration justice and it doesn’t necessarily need to be partisan to make sure there are rules of the road for the Supreme Court.”

In January, Thomas eventually amended several years of financial disclosures he is required by law to file after media reports raised questions about the omission. Simultaneously he released letters saying his wife’s income was “inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.”…

Calls To Investigate Clarence Thomas Intensify

Don’t expect any Republicans to stand up for whats right on this one – but 20 Democrat Congressmen have called for an investigation into the questionable finances of Clarence Thomas, and “pay to play” justice at the Supreme Court.

The 5-4 Supreme Court - All the Justice You Can Afford

Clarence Thomas Should Be Investigated For Nondisclosure, Democratic Lawmakers Say

Democratic lawmakers on Thursday called for a federal investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ failure to report hundreds of thousands of dollars on annual financial disclosure forms.

Led by House Rules Committee ranking member Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), 20 House Democrats sent a letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States — the entity that frames guidelines for the administration of federal courts — requesting that the conference refer the matter of Thomas’ non-compliance with the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to the Department of Justice.

The letter outlines how, throughout his 20-year tenure on the Supreme Court, Thomas routinely checked a box titled “none” on his annual financial disclosure forms, indicating that his wife had received no income. But in reality, the letter states, she earned nearly $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation from 2003 to 2007 alone.

Slaughter called it “absurd” to suggest that Thomas may not have known how to fill out the forms.

“It is reasonable, in every sense of the word, to believe that a member of the highest court in the land should know how to properly disclose almost $700,000 worth of income,” Slaughter said in a statement. “To not be able to do so is suspicious, and according to law, requires further investigation. To accept Justice Thomas’s explanation without doing the required due diligence would be irresponsible.”

The letter also cites a June report in The New York Times indicating Thomas may have regularly benefited from the use of a private yacht and airplane owned by real estate magnate Harlan Crowe and failed to disclose the travel as a gift or travel reimbursement.

Current law requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the Attorney General any judge the conference “has reasonable cause to believe has willfully failed to file a report or has willfully falsified or willfully failed to file information required to be reported.”

Slaughter’s press statement also notes that the Heritage Foundation was a prominent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, an issue the Supreme Court is expected to rule on by next summer.

“The Attorney General would be the appropriate person to investigate the issue of non-disclosure, and that is why my colleagues and I are making this request today,” Slaughter said. “I cannot determine guilt or innocence, but I can request that the government do our due diligence in investigating a situation that strikes me, and many other members of Congress, as suspicious.”

Other members of Congress on the letter include Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Pete Stark (D-Calif.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), John Olver (D-Mass.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.).

Money, Honey… Indeed.

On Lynching and the Execution of Troy Davis

The execution of Troy Davis in Georgia has ignited a firestorm of outrage. Davis’ last words were that he was “innocent”.

Not surprising Cash and Carry Uncle Tommie Clarence led the Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene… Proving once again a black defendant can’t get a fair trial or consideration in the courts, whether it is due to racism, politics – or in the case of Thomas…

A need to re-establish his Lawn Ornament bonafides with the conservative people who own him. I am not arguing that Troy Davis’ execution would have been stopped by the court…

Only that were not the Supreme Court corrupt, at least he would have gotten a fair hearing.

The Execution of Troy Davis Provides Another ‘Haunting Reminder of Once Prevalent Southern Lynchings’

“I am innocent,” said Troy Davis, moments before the the state of Georgia put him to death.

The state-sanctioned slaying, which former President Jammy Carter characterized as “a grave miscarriage of justice,” was completed at 11:08 pm EST.

Before the execution, the man whose case inspired an international outcry against not just the death penalty but a dysfunctional “justice” system told the witnesses at the Georgia Diagnostic Prison facility: “The incident that night was not my fault. I did not have a gun.”

Addressing the family of, Mark MacPhail, the off-duty Savannah police officer he was accused of killing, Davis said he was sorry for their loss. Then, he said: “I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent.”

To those who battled to save his life, Davis urged continued investigation, inquiry and struggle for justice. “All I can ask… is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth,” he said moments before the execution.

The killing of Davis took place after US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a Georgia native, led the High Court in rejecting a plea that the killing be blocked. There were no dissents from the other justices on the current Court.

But it is important to underline the word “current.”

Former Justice John Paul Stevens, who left the High Court last year, has argued in recent statements and interviews that the death penalty is “unconstitutional.”

In particular, he cited evidence confirming that African-Americans who are charged with murder (such as Troy Davis) are dramatically more likely than whites to be executed.

The General Accounting Office has concluded that “in 82 percent of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e. those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks,” while former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, the long-time chair of the Constutution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Commitee, has said that: “We simply cannot say we live in a country that offers equal justice to all Americans when racial disparities plague the system by which our society imposes the ultimate punishment.”

The American Civil Liberties Union notes that  “systemic racial bias in the application of the death penalty exists at both the state and federal level,” and it notes historic patterns of discrimination in particular states such as Georgia—highlighting the classic work of University of Iowa law professor David Baldus, who found that during the 1980s prosecutors in Georgia sought the death penalty for 70 percent of African-American defendants with white victims, but for only 15 percent of white defendants with black victims. (Troy Davis’ case traces back to an incident in 1989.)

The patterns of discrimination, noted Justice Stevens, “provides a haunting reminder of once prevalent Southern lynchings.“

More Heat on “Justice” Tommie Clarence

Clarence Thomas and his soul mate Antonin Scalia are a disgrace to the Supreme Court – and the nation. They have turned the Supreme Court into a cash and carry brothel for special interests and conservative money men. It would appear that members of the Supreme Court in the United States, truly sit above the law.

More Ethics Trouble for Clarence Thomas

If Clarence Thomas was hoping that liberals might just forget about his cozy ties to a Dallas real estate developer, or his failure for a decade to disclose the hundreds of thousands of dollars his wife earned from a conservative think tank, well, he would be wrong. As President Obama’s health care reform bill gets closer and closer to a hearing before the high court, liberal groups are continuing to press for some sort of disciplinary action against Thomas, or at least to force him to recuse himself from hearing the health care case.

To that end, on Tuesday, the left-leaning Alliance for Justice and the good-government group Common Cause asked the Judicial Conference of the United States, which oversees the federal courts, to investigate whether Thomas violated the Ethics in Government Act. The groups allege that Thomas may have violated the act when he failed to disclose his wife Ginny Thomas’s compensation—upwards of $700,000—from the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation.

The groups also are asking the Judicial Conference to investigate whether Thomas may have failed to report travel paid for by the Texas real estate developer Harlan Crowe, as reported by the New York Times. The Judicial Conference was holding its semi-annual meeting in DC this week when the advocacy groups sent their letter. If the Conference concludes that the allegations have merit, federal law requires that if it “has reasonable cause to believe has willfully falsified or willfully failed to file information required to be reported” it must refer the case to the attorney general. Common Cause president Bob Edgar said in a statement Tuesday:

In America, no one is above the law, including Supreme Court justices. For more than a decade, Justice Thomas omitted information about his wife’s income, clearly required by the Ethics in Government Act, from his annual financial disclosure report. Surely such a repeated violation, by someone entrusted to apply laws far more complex than the Ethics Act, at least deserves a formal review by the Judicial Conference and the Attorney General.

Odds are slim that even the Judicial Conference is going to ask Eric Holder to investigate Thomas. But you can’t really fault them for trying. Thomas’s lapses seem egregious enough for some higher authority to take a second look.

Unfortunately, thanks the the separation of powers doctrine, there really isn’t a higher authority when it comes to the Supreme Court. Some members of Congress are trying to change that. Also this week, the Alliance for Justice has been trying to rally support for congressional hearings on a bill introduced earlier this year that would force Supreme Court justices to be covered by the code of conduct that applies to other federal judges and create new procedures for when a justice may have to recuse from hearing a case. Given that virtually no Republicans have signed on, this law, too, has no hope of going anywhere, at least not any time soon. But the Democrats behind it get points for trying anyway…

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