Skip to main content
Opinion

Justice Clarence Thomas should pay the consequences

Apr 12, 2023

Share

Adrienne Lawrence

Legal analyst, law professor & award-winning author

Share

ProPublica has reported that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas secretly accepted extravagant gifts from a Texas real estate magnate for two decades without disclosing them. Harlan Crow, a GOP megadonor, treated Thomas and his wife Ginni to free trips on his private jet and 162-foot superyacht in an apparent violation of a post-Watergate financial disclosure law. Thomas said he will comply with new rules set in March by the Judicial Conference that requires federal judges and Supreme Court justices to report gifts.

Straight Arrow News contributor Adrienne Lawrence argues it’s time to consider impeaching Justice Thomas because this is only the latest in a series of alleged scandals tied to him.

Moira Smith, she was the vice president and general counsel at Alaska-based energy company called like, I think it’s Enstar National Corporation [Enstar Natural Gas Company]. Well she told the National Law Journal that the justice squeezed her butt the first time she met him when she was just 23 years old. 

And additionally, the antics of the justice’s wife, Ginni Thomas, well those are extremely problematic and they give good reason to question his impartiality on the bench. For example, in January 2022, well, Justice Thomas was the lone vote trying to block the public from knowing more about those who advanced the insurrection, which we now know would have included his wife Ginni who had exchanged a host of text messages with leaders and former President Donald Trump’s administration. 

The woman advocated to overthrow the U.S. government in the wake of Joseph Robinette being elected to the White House. And now to learn that Thomas was enjoying extravagant trips — everywhere from California to Indonesia to New Zealand and beyond — for more than, what, 30 years? But the justice never said anything about it, except for the one trip he disclosed in 1997. Give me a break.

And of course, the justice says that he didn’t say anything because he didn’t think he had to tell the world that he was accepting these things of considerable value from a GOP fundraiser for almost three decades. Thomas said it was nothing more than millions of dollars in hospitality from a close family friend. Mind you, this is a friend that Thomas evidently made after becoming a justice with a lifetime appointment on the most powerful court in the country. So let’s just call it what it is — paid access to power. You can’t tell me that the things of value Thomas enjoyed from his billionaire buddy Crow didn’t influence his decisions on the bench. Just like you can’t tell me that Ginni Thomas’ conservative activism has played no role in his rulings.

When I learned that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas didn’t disclose decades of lavish free trips on private planes and super yachts of a right-wing billionaire named Harlan Crow, well, I wasn’t shocked. 

Thomas has been trashed since day one — at least, what, since Sony issued its first Walkman back in the 80s. Let’s be real here. But I was bewildered by how filthy this trash actually is — specifically that the justice’s supposed close family friend Crow collects Adolf Hitler memorabilia, including a signed copy of Mein Kampf. 

He also has Nazi regalia and statutes of the 20th century’s worst people, all on display. This is more than appreciated, this is celebrated by a close family friend of the longest-seated U.S. Supreme Court justice. If anything, the time is now to uphold the rule of law and impeach Clarence Thomas. The evidence against him is glaring. Let’s see. So in addition to being a Grade A asshole, per the testimony of Anita Hill, Thomas was accused of groping a woman in 1999. This is like seven, eight years after he was elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Moira Smith — she was the Vice President and General Counsel at Alaska-based energy company called like, I think it’s N Star National Corporation —  well, she told the National Law Journal that the justice squeezed her butt the first time she met him when she was just 23 years old. 

And additionally, the antics of the justices wife, Jenny Thomas, well, those are extremely problematic, and they give good reason to question his impartiality on the bench. For example, in January 2022, well, Justice Thomas was the lone vote trying to block the public from knowing more about those who advanced the insurrection, which we now know would have included his wife Jenny, who had exchanged a host of text messages with leaders and former President Donald Trump’s administration. 

The woman advocated to overthrow the US government in the wake of Joseph Robinette being elected to the White House. And now to learn that Thomas was enjoying extravagant trips — everywhere from California to Indonesia to New Zealand and beyond — for more than, what, 30 years? But the justice never said anything about it, except for the one trip he disclosed in 1997. Give me a break. And of course, the justice says that he didn’t say anything because he didn’t think he had to tell the world that he was accepting these things of considerable value from a GOP fundraiser for almost three decades. Thomas said it was nothing more than millions of dollars in hospitality from a close family friend. Mind you, this is a friend that Thomas evidently made after becoming a justice with a lifetime appointment on the most powerful court in the country. So let’s just call it what it is — paid access to power. You can’t tell me that the things of value Thomas enjoyed from his billionaire buddy Crow didn’t influence his decisions on the bench. Just like you can’t tell me that Jenny Thomas’s conservative activism has played no role in his rulings. I will not believe it, and neither will the American people. We deserve Supreme Court justices who are truly committed to impartiality and will render rulings in accordance with the law as opposed to in alignment with the wishes of the highest bidder. We just saw the court completely break from precedent and annihilate Roe v Wade, simply to suit their right-leaning radical Christian fundamentalist agenda, something that we the people did not sign up for, and what’s supposed to be a secular nation, a nation that is only a sound as the rules that enforces. 

So let’s enforce these rules here and now. The Constitution states that justices shall hold their offices during good behavior. Clarence Thomas’s behavior has been anything but good. But at the same time, I do fully recognize that holding him accountable for such bad behavior would be practically impossible. For a justice to be removed, it takes impeachment by a majority of the House of Representatives and conviction by two-thirds of the Senate. 

And given the current situation right now in Congress, the Democrats don’t have hope in any way to taking Thomas to task. And while I do appreciate that a group of 16 congressional Democrats just asked Chief Justice Roberts to investigate Thomas’s trips, that’s not enough. The Dems might as well have asked George Santos to look into the matter. Impeachment is essential here. Subpoenas should be sent. Testimony taken, facts unearthed. The Dems need to get loud, air out the man’s messy. 

Justice Thomas should be so uncomfortable he puts in his pink slip post-haste. And whether it’s by stroke of luck in this administration or coordinated effort in the next, the Dems must send a message that reinforces accountability for Supreme Court justices. They must do something to ensure Thomas, Ginni, and the rest of the right-wingers on the court and their shady-ass, fascist-loving friends know that the Dems aren’t just watching, but waiting for the moment to hold them accountable. Because this pussyfooting nonsense of “please investigate yourself” is getting us nowhere but further to the right.

Video Library