SCOTUS in need of Code of Ethics?

This report indicates the answer should be yes.

One trip that would have cost $500K, from a guy who claims he prefers RV’s and Walmart parking lots? All on the MANY dimes of a GOP megadonor billionaire. And he didn’t report (as is already required) any of his trips funded by the same individual?

Read more: SCOTUS in need of Code of Ethics?

And he saw no conflict of interest in ruling on anything related to January 6th?

Resign with dignity or be impeached? Your choice, Justice Thomas.

And THIS discussion doesn’t even mention his trips with or funded by his deep-pocket buddy.

70 thoughts on “SCOTUS in need of Code of Ethics?

  1. I saw this article earlier today. The implications are enormous.

    A neutral judiciary is crucial to both trust in and the survival of a representative democratic republic like ours.

    Note that stacking the courts is often the first thing autocrats like Erdogan and Orban accomplish to prevent constitutional blocks to power. In our country, the blatant rejection of an Obama appointee followed by rapid fire appointments by the next administration, particularly the last one, shows what importance the Court has on our democracy. And that control of the Court, and other lesser courts, is important enough to be a campaign issue.

    That Thomas is so clueless, or corrupt for that matter, to ignore the obvious issues of being bought or available to special interests is certainly concerning.

    At some point, the excuse that he and Ginny never discuss politics to any disturbing degree regarding judicial impartiality is no longer valid.

    Even in the unlikely event that no influence existed, the appearance of conflicts of interest is destructive.

    The oddity of our Constitution is that our judiciary is very intertwined with party politics. Advice and consent were meant to temper autocratic appointments. Unfortunately, this has created a partisan atmosphere since Gingrich shifted to the extremes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. …”is that our judiciary is very intertwined with party politics.”

      Wisconsin’s special election this week furthers that point.

      An independent judiciary does not appear possible today. Makes me wonder what our resident originalist thinks about this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Take care what you wish for.

    If we impeach every government official who has a wife who is politically connected, you wouldn’t have anyone to vote for but Libertarians.

    At least he didn’t go to Epstein Island.


    1. …”who has a wife who is politically connected, you wouldn’t have anyone to vote for but Libertarians.”

      Are you saying that Libertarian wives stay home and don’t get involved? Interesting. A little mysoginistic, but interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, just that rich people don’t generally like us.

        I would expect most of the real estate developers in Tidewater would run over me if they saw me crossing a street.


  3. I don’t think SCOTUS needs a code of ethics, nor would it be a good thing if Congress had the power to police SCOTUS in light of a code of ethics.

    Justices, being human, are as prone to ethical lapses as anyone else, but the nature of their work is largely and inherently immune to the consequences of bad ethics. To see why, suppose a justice forms an immoral opinion. The justice still must explain it, which means that either the immorality will be exposed or else it will be resolved.

    Besides, justices already can be impeached for bad behavior. Congress doesn’t need any new powers to remove a justice and would likely abuse them if given the chance.


    1. …” nor would it be a good thing if Congress had the power to police SCOTUS in light of a code of ethics.”

      If the justices would follow and police their own limited code of ethics, this would be a non-story.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. scouts should have the same reporting requirements of other federal employees. And these trips should have been reported. I had to report every year that I was a federal manager that I did not accept gifts, or if I did I had to list them and who gave them to me. (I never accepted any gifts from outside the Federal Government. )

    Liked by 2 people

      1. “ These trips appeared nowhere on Thomas’ financial disclosures. His failure to report the flights appears to violate a law passed after Watergate that requires justices, judges, members of Congress and federal officials to disclose most gifts, two ethics law experts said. He also should have disclosed his trips on the yacht, these experts said.”

        Failure to report lavish gifts from people who donate to your family’s causes while you sit in judgement of those same causes is corruption on the most obvious level.

        You were outraged by Bragg having been supported by a PAC that included donations by Soros.

        Sounds like pretty malleable principles to me.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It appears the referenced article has changed since this was posted.

          But the article does point out that Thomas is not required to report traveling with friends as a gift. The article also concedes that the Thomases and Crows are true friends and have been for 30 years.

          It goes on to add up the cost of a trip based on what it would cost Thomas to charter a jet and a yacht and rent accommodations. But Crow and his wife were going anyway, on his plane and yacht, and staying at his accommodations. It didn’t cost any more for the Thomases to go with them. So where is the lavish gift?

          Can you point to any ruling Thomas has made that is inconsistent with his longstanding judicial philosophy that would indicate influence? Nope, consistent to the point of boring.

          So, no, I see no problem. Billionaires have friends too.


          1. Apparently corruption is ok so long as it furthers your agenda.

            Thomas was the lone dissenter on one of the bogus election appeals. Ginny was gleeful about barges of Gitmo. No conflict there…

            Thomas didn’t even declare the gifts.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. Again, since Crow was going anyway, there is nothing improper.

            DO you have any evidence that either of those votes was ever discussed, or inconsistent with Thomas’s philosophy.

            BTW, what are barges of GITMO?


          3. When Ginny was freaking out about the election loss, she retweeted conspiracies while begging lawmakers to overturn the election. One of those was that Democrats were prisoners on barges off Gitmo awaiting “justice”. Then, of course, her husband tried to rule on the election results.

            Crow also had like minded hard line right wingers on these trips.

            You know full well this stinks. If Sotomayor had done the same you’d be screaming impeachment from the rooftops.

            Americans have lost trust in everything regarding our nation and its governance. With the Court, already low on the trust, showing that its currying favor with the “elites” is another blow, a serious one.

            The appeal of MAGA was to fight the “system” run by uncaring elites screwing the working classes. So Thomas kind of puts a face on that. But so long as he votes your way, it’s ok.

            Liked by 2 people

          4. “ The Thomases have always denied that they discuss each other’s work. In one of her texts, however, written three weeks after the 2020 election, she responded to Meadows – who described the attempt to overturn Biden’s win as “a fight of good versus evil” – by saying:

            “Thank you!! Needed that! This plus a conversation with my best friend just now … I will try to keep holding on.”


            So, yes, there is no doubt that the Thomases discussed her politics. And she received income from her consulting group via donations from Crow, among others.

            You can, and have, rationalized the Thomas scandal, but the reality is terrible for our judiciary.

            FWIW, judges are supposed to be umpires. The reality is different. Just the system alone of politics determining the makeup of the Court for decades out based on random events of death or retirement is rife with opportunities for corruption. It takes strong people to avoid a sense of entitlement because they have the power.

            If we can’t rely on that, we really need to tighten gifting for all elected and appointed officials. Mandatory reporting for every “gift” with strong penalties for non-compliance. No exceptions, period.

            Liked by 2 people

          5. And yet you have not pointed to any decision in which Thomas deviated from his originalist philosophy.

            Di you think he was unduly influenced to do what he was going to do anyway?


          6. You are playing “catch me if you can”.

            I guess you are in favor of judges taking very expensive gifts from interested parties without bothering to declare them.

            Thomas was the only dissenter when Texas, brought that lawsuit against PA. The case had zero merit or even standing, but Ginny was up to her neck in election conspiracies and he was the “best friend” she told Meadows about.

            That case alone should have been a red flag.

            But at that time we didn’t know about this egregious conflict of interest from right wing power brokers. Nor did we know there was a concerted effort to overturn the election that culminated in 1/6.

            Thomas has brought disrepute to the Court and a better man would retire.

            Liked by 2 people

          7. The dissent was written by Alito and Thomas joined.

            They argued that Texas had the right to bring the complaint but otherwise agreed with the majority.


      2. “As long as he didn’t try to cover them up, I am not concerned.”

        There is a requirement that these trips were to be reported. For over 20 years Justice Thomas failed to report them.

        Sounds like a coverup to me.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. “ Though rules governing SCOTUS gifts are not in statute, just 17 days after new gift rules for the political branches went into effect in 1991, Chief Justice William Rehnquist drafted a memo on behalf of himself and his colleagues saying they’d follow the same gift rules put in place for lower court judges. That memo remains in effect today.”


            Liked by 2 people

          2. Actual cost for the Crow’s is an irrelevant smoke screen. If the Thomas’s wanted to go on a trip like that, it would have been $500k. That they didn’t even pay a token “thank you” to the Crow’s gives this the appearance of a largesse that should have been reported, just for the sake of protecting the court’s reputation.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. When I take someone fishing I don’t see it as a gift, I see it as enjoying their company. You don’t think Crow enjoyed his vacation more with the Thomas’s company?

            You live in a very sad world if you think everyone does everything as a transaction.


          4. If you took the judge that was going to rule in a case you had pending and you took him fishing, bought him nice new equipment, and finished up with a weekend at the Greenbrier you would be very suspect if he did not recuse himself.

            In American politics, exchanging favors is rampant, so we have ethics laws. It makes no difference what your relationship was, influence peddling and the appearance of the same are impediments to trust in a government of, by and for the people. You are adamant, or were until now, about government and business needing to be at arms length. No favors by government.

            You brought up Soros and Bragg as egregious. Yet, as it turns out the relationship is more than arms length through decades old PAC contributions. Crow and Thomas “gifts” are direct and lavish with other like minded right wingers in attendance. You’d have to be really naive to believe there was no undue influence.

            Liked by 2 people

          5. So, Thomas and other justices can have no friends?

            If I took a judge fishing I would expect the judge to recuse himself in a case in which I was involved.

            Can you point to a case Crow was involved in?


          6. Actually, when you are in positions of great power, you often have to sacrifice some relationships that pose conflicts. Crow was a very active right wing donor, not just a rich guy. You are forever excusing the obvious problem with excuses.

            Liked by 2 people

          7. I just don’t see a problem absent any indication of influence.

            If Thomes made a left wing friend and started ruling differently, I would, but Thomas is boringly consistent in his originalist view.


          8. I just think you don’t get it. Appearance of favor or influence is what Americans see. You said it yourself with Bragg and Soros. And those two have probably not even met socially, if at all.

            Like I said earlier, if Sotomayor went on regular junkets with Soros, even with no direct cases involved, you would see a problem.

            Thomas used to declare his gifts until 2004. He was getting the most extravagant ones among the justices. Including some junkets. Then he stopped declaring until now that this has been unveiled. At the least, he was abusing his power.

            Lobbying is the bugaboo of honest governing. Not because constituents don’t deserve to be heard, but politicians are not supposed to be bought. And that is what Americans see.

            Trump and Sanders ran on that…the influence peddling by elites screwing over the rest of us.

            Of course getting rid of Thomas is really an uphill battle. This despite that his credibility and that of the Court are in the toilet. The fear of a liberal judge appointment overrides trust in the judiciary.

            Liked by 2 people

          9. “Like I said earlier, if Sotomayor went on regular junkets with Soros, even with no direct cases involved, you would see a problem.”

            Why would you think that?

            Sotomayor is already reliably liberal regardless of the law. Soros can’t make her more liberal.

            Now, if Sotomayor were to travel with Crow and suddenly started ruling as an originalist, then I would be worried.

            But Soros can’t make her more liberal and Crow can’t make Thomas more originalist.


          10. …”then I would be worried.”

            Actually, I believe you would cheer the “conversion”.

            ANd perhaps Crow has been paying for Thomas’s originalism from the beginning. (You people make random declarations like that on a regular basis. I just thought I would try it on for size.)


          11. And you think that the Crows enjoying the company of the Thomases on their vacation is going to make Thomas somehow more of an originalist than he already is?

            The concept of a bribe is to get an official to do something he otherwise would not. What could Crow want that Thomas does not do anyway?


          12. “The concept of a bribe is to get an official to do something he otherwise would not.”

            You are very naive. This sort of lavish entertainment and extravagant gifting is not done for an immediate quid pro quo. It is more like this moment in the Godfather when Corleone is speaking to the undertaker . . .

            “Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, consider this justice a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.”

            Whether you are willing to accept it or not, one of our few SCOTUS Justices is deeply indebted to the man who has spent MILLIONS making his life more pleasant and comfortable. That is how corruption really works.

            Liked by 2 people

          13. If so, Crow is playing a very long game. as they have been close friends and companions for almost 30 years.

            Liberals seem to have a difficult with the concept of good friends who are not playing each other. That is really sad.


          14. Wow!

            What sophistry!

            I am a little late to this thread so will only add that the frequent charge of hypocrisy has been proven in spades. For someone who sees “corruption” in the heart and soul of every Democrat and in every bureaucrat the inability to see the obvious corruption on display by Justice and Ginny Thomas is decisive proof of the double standards of a hypocrite.

            Liked by 1 person

          15. “You can’t bribe a person to have views they already hold.”

            That is a cop out. And, if you do not know it, you should.

            Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. Even if there is no gift that would change his vote on any issue, Thomas’s deliberate failure to disclose the largesse he has been enjoying for years now violates that principle. And given the disrepute the GOP and Trump has brought the Court to, the appearance of impartiality is more important than ever.

            Yes, I said disrepute.
            The blocking of Merrick Garland.
            The FBI cover-up of Kavanaugh’s behavior.
            The unseemly rush to install Barrett.
            The lying under oath about respecting precedent.
            The theocratic and very unpopular decision in Dobbs

            have all had the effect of undermining the legitimacy that our system relies on.

            Liked by 1 person

          16. None of that is relevant.

            There was no obligation to report hospitality until 1 month ago, Thomas said he will report it going forward. He has complied with the law.

            You cannot demonstrate any influence on Thomas resulting from his friendship with Crow, on the contrary, it appears they became fronds because they were already birds of a feather.

            And you know Thomas is not corrupt, you are just desperate to get him out of the court on Biden’s watch, and he just refuses to die.


          17. By that same logic, the judge in Trump’s hush money case, a long time Democrat donor, is corrupt for not recusing himself.

            The presumption is that judges are incapable of reading the law correctly when it conflicts with their personal view of what is best.

            You can’t make that assumption for judges you don’t like while trusting those you do.


          18. “By that same logic, the judge in Trump’s hush money case, a long time Democrat donor, is corrupt for not recusing himself.”

            Uh, that is not the “same logic.” That is pitifully poor logic. There is a world of difference between receiving money and giving money. Not hard to understand if you try.

            Liked by 2 people

          19. “Thomas did not receive money, he went on vacation as a guest of a friend.”

            Try to keep up.

            We were discussing my comment that Thomas should have recused himself from cases where his wife was a player. Ginny Thomas received money from her clients with business in the courts. She had nothing to offer but her connection with Justice Thomas. When Hunter Biden received money based only on his family connections you had no problem seeing it as corruption.

            Liked by 1 person

          20. “Gini Thomas was a political activist before she met her husband and well before he was on SCOTUS.”

            That has NOTHING to do with the point made. NOTHING. Her activities frequently have created a conflict of interest. When she had done so he should have been recusing himself. He did not. Failing to do so is corrupt.

            You think she is some sort of brilliant strategist whose talents are in demand? Her extremely stupid messaging to the White House and others says otherwise. Her business is based on her family connections nad she frequently confers with her “friend.” She is Hunter Biden on steroids.


          21. Really?

            On what case has Gini influenced Thomas to do something other than his well known philosophy?

            Could you bribe me to eat a steak? Nope, you’d have to bribe me not to.


          22. “On what case has Gini influenced Thomas to do something other than his well known philosophy?”

            You have got to be kidding. He should recuse on EVERY case involving the January 6th insurrection for starters. His wife was part of the plot. For example, his lone vote to block the subpoena of White House texts and documents that included the texts his wife sent to Mark Meadows reeks of conflict of interest.

            Before January 6th, Ms Thomas was active in several conservative organizations with business before the Court. Her role in the Heritage Foundation (which paid her $680,000 for something and the payment was omitted from legally required financial disclosures), Project Veritas, National Association of Scholars, and the Center for Security Policy should have triggered recusals when these groups came to the Court, but did not.

            Whether he would have voted any differently than he would without her conflict of interest is not the test. The appearance of a conflict is enough to a cause someone of sound judicial temperment to recuse themselves. Justice Thomas is obviously not such a person.

            Liked by 1 person

          23. If we are going to clean house in government of every official who has a spouse or significant other who is an activist, there will be tumbleweeds rolling down the streets in DC.


          24. “If we are going to clean house in government of every official who has a spouse or significant other who is an activist, there will be tumbleweeds rolling down the streets in DC.”

            We are not talking about just any old official. SCOTUS is in a very special place with no further appeal. If Ginni insists on continuing selling influence (and that is what she is selling), then the public must insist that Thomas disclose who she is selling to and recuse himself from cases that overlap her clientele.

            Liked by 1 person

          25. “You just want to get rid of Thomas on Biden’s watch . . .”

            Actually, I have not called for his impeachment. I just believe he should straighten up and fly right.

            As an aside, I am not worried about Biden’s watch. I think it is increasingly unlikely that there will be another Republican President in my lifetime.

            Liked by 1 person

          26. Your opinion is noted. That you consider Bragg corrupted by a campaign donation that tangentially came from a decades old PAC that Soros supports is truly inconsistent.

            Crow has donated directly to Ginny’s Foundation that she draws income from, as well as being a MAGA donor for right wing causes. Hobnobbing with Crow and friends is a terrible look. Not declaring it is even worse. Thomas declared his expensive gifts until 2004. Then quit doing so after NYT wrote that he was receiving the most lavish gifts of any justice. That smacks of contempt, entitlement or corruption. Certainly not transparency.

            Conflicts, even the appearance of one, need to be avoided even at some personal “sacrifice” while enjoying the perk of a lifetime appointee as one of the most powerful persons in our government. Particularly as a judge who is supposed to settle legal disputes arising from the political branches in our country.

            In our increasingly fragile democratic republic, wealth determines access to, influence of and favorable treatment by legislators and presidents. That is not good, but so long as it takes millions to win elections, a burden we have to live with and control as well as possible.

            The judiciary at the federal levels is not determined by direct voting, so influence peddling is couched in “gifts”. And although Thomas has been, as you assert, reliably right wing, we will never know whether such reliability was created, insured or bought by a lifetime of largesse from an effective and generous right wing cabal of wealthy hard liners.

            I am sure Thomas will retain his seat. Once he professed to prefer Walmart parking lots for trailering, but the taste of honey via private resorts, chefs, and jets are enticing enough to shift his regular guy persona. Is it at cost of judicial decision making?

            Who knows? And that alone is a problem for a government of, by and for the people.


            Liked by 2 people

          27. “Liberals seem to have a difficult with the concept of good friends who are not playing each other. That is really sad.”

            And that is just very silly nonsense.

            If this was Joe and Jill Biden being treated to multi-million dollar friendly outings by, say, George Soros, you would not have any trouble understanding what the problem is. And if the outing just happened to include the top lawyers of, the Sierra Club, and the Brookings Insitution you would have even less trouble seeing “corruption.”

            Here to help you visualize the problem is a painting commissioned by Mr. Crow . . .

            In addition to Thomas and Crow we see Peter Rutledge, Leonard Leo, and Mark Paoletta just being friends. The later three are all top level conservative operatives.

            Liked by 1 person

          28. “If so, Crow is playing a very long game.”

            It is not just that. Rich people measure their status in rich people circles by the people they can get to come to their parties. A SCOTUS Justice joining you on your yacht or at your mountain retreat is a nice feather in your cap and for a billionaire the cost is negligible. So why not?

            Liked by 1 person

          29. “And yet everyone who knows them says the friendship is real. Your just projecting your envy on people who show no signs of it.”

            I am not projecting anything. Whether the friendship is real or not is absolutely immaterial to the legal and ethical obligations of a Supreme Court Justice.

            Liked by 1 person

          30. “… everyone who knows them…”

            Who, how many? Or is it just another “…everyone knows that…” declaration of “fact”.

            Impartiality among the most powerful people in the US is crucial. Going on private retreats with a major donor to political PAC’s that include a judges wife’s income, is a serious ethical breach. Including political operatives makes it even worse. Stopping declaration when exposed as the biggest receiver of expensive gifts is truly egregious.

            That people excuse and condone such behavior is reflects poorly on them.


            Liked by 2 people

          31. It was reported in the article.

            You are confusing judges with legislators, a common error among Democrats.

            If a judge does his job correctly, and I have seen no indication that Thomas ever deviated from that, his opinion on what the law should be is irrelevant. Judges should limit themselves to what the law is, not what they want.

            When they don’t, you get controversy where it doesn’t belong. If you don’t like a law, change it, don’t look to judges to do it for the legislature.


          32. Irrelevant to the issue.

            Law is always open to interpretation. The Constitution is no exception. That is why we have federal courts.

            The Second has been parsed to a ridiculous extent. Comma placement and tangential readings of founder documents is not black and white. It is a matter of interpretation and opinion. Political influence no matter how well concealed is a serious infringement on judicial neutrality.

            Lavish gifts, travel to and lodging at exclusive private resorts by powerful political donors and operatives is obscene. Not declaring them is an obscene gesture to ethics.

            Reagan once said “trust, but verify” when dealing with the Soviets. That same applies to judges. Verification involves full disclosure.

            Liked by 2 people

          33. “If a judge does his job correctly, and I have seen no indication that Thomas ever deviated from that”

            Did you forget about the time Thomas voted to keep his wife’s insurrectionist messages from Congress. The vote was 8-1. Thomas was the only Justice to get it right? The rest are what? Dumb? Corrupt?

            Liked by 1 person

          34. “Cite the case and decision and I will take a look.”

            No need. Your apparent unfamiliarity with this highly publicized case throws your categorical statement about Thomas’s decisions into the trash bin. You obviously were just blathering without much knowledge of the positions he has taken.

            Liked by 1 person

          35. “So you have no cite”

            There are hundreds of them. Look it up. Since you apparently do not know how to use Google I suggest you search for “Justice Thomas 8-1”

            My point remains in spite of your sily “cite” games. You are not even familiar with this notorious vote by Justice Thomas and yet you claim he is right in every vote ever.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s