Article Two of the United States Constitution says that Supreme Court justices, once appointed by the President and confirmed by “advice and consent” of the Senate, shall serve for life as long as they serve “during good behavior.” A justice’s tenure can be abbreviated by resignation, retirement, or death, and most Justices either retire or die during their service on the nation’s highest court. There is however, a provision in the Constitution for a Supreme Court justice who does not serve “during good behavior” that involves indicting and trying the offender. It is time for Congress to act and proceed with impeachment proceedings against Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia for serving “during criminal behavior” and for subverting the Constitution.
Both Thomas and Scalia have stepped over the demarcation line between judicial malfeasance and blind justice when hearing cases before the high court. The likelihood of either man being impeached by the Republican controlled House is slim, but in the interest of salvaging the Court’s reputation and demonstrating to the American people that no public servant is above the law, Republicans should set aside their Conservative bent and protect the integrity of the Court and the Constitution.
Republicans though, are not big on integrity or the Constitution as the nation has observed for the past two years. The House Tea Party caucus is certainly not going to be involved in any impeachment proceedings because Justice Antonin Scalia has conducted closed-door meetings to discuss the constitutionality of legislative action before Congress. There are myriad problems associated with a Supreme Court Justice discussing the constitutionality of upcoming legislation, especially when the justice’s political inclination is the same as the Representatives he is instructing. It is also questionable that the justice would give advice and recommendations for a vote on a measure that could eventually wind up being heard before the court. Even if there were no questions of ethical malpractice, the fact that Scalia is meeting in secret with Tea Party members brings into question the nature of the meetings and whether or not Scalia gave directions on how the representatives should cast their votes.
Justice Clarence Thomas joined Scalia when the men attended secret meetings with conservative business leaders at an event sponsored and hosted by the Koch Brothers who fund the Tea Party as well as a variety of conservative think tanks and PACs. The secret meetings were for the purpose of plotting political strategy, and both justices subsequently voted to give corporations the same free speech rights as an individual in the Citizen’s United case that allows unrestricted donations to political campaigns; including donations from foreign sources.
The Citizen’s United decision was an outrage in itself, but a new revelation that Citizen’s United paid $100,000 for an ad supporting Thomas’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 1991 by then President George H.W. Bush pushes the limit of judicial malfeasance. It is not the fact that an individual or corporation paid to promote Thomas’ nomination to the high court, but that he ruled in favor of Citizen’s United. If Thomas had any integrity to the court or to the Constitution he would have recused himself from hearing the case. The $100,000 spent on the ad amounts to in-kind contribution and it should have been reported. Thomas has a history of not reporting, not remembering, or not knowing about incidents involving income reporting on Federal Income Tax forms and his wife’s work with the Heritage Foundation and a Tea Party lobbying organization.
All federal judges are required to file annual financial disclosure forms, but Thomas failed to report the information and he blamed 13 years of omissions on a misunderstanding. This week Thomas released corrected financial disclosure forms showing his wife’s past employment. The newly released forms did not disclose the amount of money Thomas’ wife earned, but the records confirm that Mrs. Thomas worked for the Heritage Foundation, The Republican leadership in the House, and a college in Michigan. Ginny Thomas recently stepped down from leadership of Liberty Central, a conservative group promoting conservative and Tea Party causes like repealing the Affordable Health Care Act. Records from the IRS show that Mrs. Thomas earned nearly $700,000 between 2003 and 2007 when she worked for the Heritage Foundation.
Besides the revelation that Thomas benefitted from Citizen’s United, in 2008, Thomas gave a speech at a conservative seminar sponsored in part by GOP fundraisers. Like the Citizen’s United case, Koch brother’s secret policy event, and his wife’s tea party lobbying group, there is the appearance of a conflict of interest that seems to follow Thomas. It is more likely that the appearances of conflict of interest are judicial decisions for cash. There is no impropriety in Thomas’ wife working for lobbyists or think tanks, but there is wrongdoing on his part for not disclosing the information.
Although Scalia has not omitted information regarding finances, he has shown bad behavior and malfeasance for sitting in on policy planning meetings by conservatives. He also meets secretly with conservative lawmakers to give Constitutional advice on bills before the House. Thomas has not met secretly with legislators, but he did join Scalia at the Koch Industries secret policy meeting and both justices voted to extend free speech rights to corporations. Both justices should have recused themselves for the Citizen’s United decision. Thomas directly benefitted from in-kind payment for his favorable decision in the case that allows foreign entities to contribute unlimited funds to political campaigns.
It is time for Democrats and Republicans to bring impartiality to the Supreme Court by impeaching Thomas and Scalia so they can stand trial in the Senate. The Citizen’s United case should be set aside so the principles can litigate the case again with an impartial court. The American people expect the highest court in the land to be above reproach, but with crooked justices like Scalia and Thomas sitting in judgment of cases they have already decided or directly influenced, the court has become polluted. The two justices are expected to render fair decisions and protect the Constitution as members of the judiciary branch, but in light of their history of malfeasance, they have failed miserably. If the justices were liberal judges, the Republican majority would impeach them with extreme prejudice, but since the justices are conservatives, they get a pass from equally crooked Republicans. Crooked judges are inherently un-American, but then again, anything to do with conservatives is inherently un-American.