Hush Money…The Selling of Justice in the Supreme Court

15 Feb

A new definition of “Hush Money”. Justice on the take…

The Right To Remain Silent

Justice Clarence Thomas is getting a lot of attention lately for what he isn’t saying and where he isn’t saying it. According to Adam Liptak in the New York Times, the last time Thomas asked a question in court was exactly five years ago next Tuesday. If there were cameras permitted at the Supreme Court, I’d wager, this news would be news to precisely no one. I’d also wager that if there were cameras at the court, Thomas would be inclined to speak more frequently.

Liptak reviews the reasons Thomas has offered for his refusal to say anything as cases are argued before the court. Sometimes Thomas says that because he grew up speaking Geechee—a dialect spoken by former slaves in Georgia—his mastery of English was always a source of anxiety to him. Sometimes Thomas says that with so many justices jabbering at once, oral argument has become a circus, and he refuses to contribute to an atmosphere he has likened to Family Feud. Thomas also says that you can’t be judging if you are also debating and once wondered aloud about what would happen if a bunch of surgeons loudly debated gallbladder surgery while standing around the operating room. “You really didn’t go in there to have a debate about gallbladder surgery,” he said at the time. “We are there to decide cases, not to engage in seminar discussions.”

Perhaps somewhat predictably, response to Thomas’ five years of silence splits fairly evenly along ideological lines. Liptak quotes a critic writing in a law review article in 2009: “If Justice Thomas holds a strong view of the law in a case, he should offer it,” the article says. “Litigants could then counter it, or try to do so. It is not enough that Justice Thomas merely attend oral argument if he does not participate in argument meaningfully.” Liptak also explains what any regular court-watcher has long noticed: It’s not just that Thomas is silent at oral argument. He takes pains to look “irritated or bored.” He makes it clear that he’d rather be anyplace but in that chamber. There is a difference between being silent in public and being annoyed…

The problem with Thomas—and probably the sole reason his protracted public silence on the bench is attracting so much attention—is in his off-the-record private whispers. Thomas’ silence on the bench is all the more striking because of his partisan, and increasingly noticed, extracurricular life. As Eric Lichtblau notes in today’s New York Times, the advocacy group Common Cause has been questioning the justice’s participation in last year’s campaign-finance case, Citizens United, in large part because of Thomas’ attendance at a private 2008 event in Palm Springs, Calif., organized by Charles and David Koch, prominent organizers and financiers of conservative causes. Thomas has raised eyebrows not only by participating in such off-the-books conferences, but by simultaneously failing to file years’ worth of financial disclosure forms. All of this is compounded by his wife’s ever-more-vocal involvement as a paid lobbyist for conservative causes.

In other words, Thomas’ oath of public silence is rather selective. Thomas’ official public face may be a stony mask of silence, but he is perfectly capable of speaking—in flawless and powerful modern English—before student groups and closed conservative gatherings. He also appears to believe that financial disclosure by public officials—evidently including himself—represents an unconscionable invasion of his privacy. This combination of public silence, private advocacy, and contempt for transparency is the real problem Thomas has created, not the silence itself…



Posted by on February 15, 2011 in Black Conservatives, Domestic terrorism


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

9 responses to “Hush Money…The Selling of Justice in the Supreme Court

  1. nanakwame

    February 16, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    LOL – because he speaks Geeche, had no problem in his confirmation circus.


    • btx3

      February 16, 2011 at 9:51 AM

      Yeah – and somehow he got through Law school and 20 years working as a lawyer…

      What a crock of BS.


  2. Roderick

    February 20, 2011 at 8:34 PM

    Nor does he have any trouble making speeches at private venues like those private Koch brother conferences


    • btx3

      February 21, 2011 at 10:24 AM

      Looks like Thomas has also been taking Citizen’s United money for years, including $100,000 in Ads supporting his confirmation…


  3. elementalwolfess

    February 21, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    This ‘man’ (and I use that term lightly) needs to be removed not only from public view, but most definitely from the Supreme Court. There is something frighteningly wrong with this country when someone can vote for such a blatant power play by such ‘men’ as the Koch Bros. in an attempt to undo the basic tenets our country was founded on. It is beyond time for the common man to take back this country.


    • btx3

      February 21, 2011 at 1:58 PM

      Funny thing is – the American Civil Rights Movement was an inspiration for the world…

      Now the folks in Cairo, and other places around the world…

      Are inspiring America.


    • Roderick

      February 22, 2011 at 10:58 AM

      EW, that sounds logical but I was reading an article about the goings on in WI and you wouldn’t believe the crabs in the barrel a lot of the WI residents have toward the unions.

      But it’s not surprising because this is similar to what happened in Nazi Germany. Everyone needs a scapegoat and in America when times get tough everyone wants to blame the poor.


      • btx3

        February 22, 2011 at 2:03 PM

        I don’t think the Governor knows what he lit the fuse of. I think there are a bunch of pissed off people in this country who don’t buy the Tea Bagger rag – and are hurting. I think this one could go nationwide.


  4. Roderick

    February 22, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    opps that should have been ‘crabs in a barrel attitude’



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