July 23, 2024

one believes them

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective                                                                     
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
No one believes them
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift         
          WASHINGTON — Liberals have been griping about Justice Clarence Thomas for more than 30 years, since before he was elevated to the Supreme Court with the thinnest of margins in the U.S. Senate. A Pres. George H.W. Bush appointee, Thomas anchors the Court on the Far Right with Samuel Alito, a Pres. George W. Bush appointee, another reliable vote for the most extreme views.
          Not only are they the most radical members of the Court, they are ethically challenged in a way that undermines the legitimacy of the Court.
          Justice Thomas’ affinity for high rollers who fund expensive vacation trips has been brought to light by Pro Publica, forcing some minimal transparency about the appearance of a conflict of interest.
          More recently, Justice Alito has felt the glare of publicity after photos surfaced of an upside-down American flag flying at his Virginia home and an “Appeal to Heaven” flag associated with the Right at his Jersey shore vacation house. The flags appeared after the 1/6 insurrection and are an expression of support for the 1/6 rioters.
          Alito said the flags were his wife’s doing, and that anyone who read more into it than that was biased.
          We are all for wives having independent lives even if their husbands are Supreme Court justices, but it stretches credulity to believe Alito was a disinterested party in his own house, and in his beach house, which he took pains to explain was an inheritance in his wife’s name.
          Blaming your wife is not a good look. Martha-Ann Alito is not a public activist. As far as we know, she’s not a member of any far-right groups, and she’s not protesting in public spaces. After the 2020 election, however, she was infuriated by pro-Biden and anti-Trump signs that popped up on a neighbor’s lawn.
          She found the Trump sign offensive and told its owner how she felt. Words were exchanged. Police summoned by the neighbor said yelling is not a crime and declined to intervene.
          Senate Democrats are demanding that Alito recuse himself from Supreme Court cases related to the 1/6 insurrection on the grounds that he has tipped his hand by allowing flags to fly at his domiciles that sympathize with the rioters. He says he was not involved with or apparently even aware of the flags.
          No one believes him.
          No one believes Clarence Thomas either that he can be impartial when his wife, Ginni, is a well-known activist who sent multiple texts and emails to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, urging him to overturn the 2020 election. “Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down,” she urged, invoking a phrase used by Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who has since been discredited.
          These two justices do not belong on the highest court in the land. They are political justices attuned to the ideology that drives them, and not to the rule of law, and the precedents put in place by justices before them, many of them giants confirmed by a super majority.
          Alito wrote the draft version of the ruling that overturned Roe, a partisan screed that set the tone for what more we might expect from the Roberts Court.
          Chief Justice John Roberts is first among equals, and it is up to him to rein in the forces that are bringing down the Court in the public eye. We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but Alito’s refusal to recuse himself along with Thomas’ insistence that nothing can dislodge him from the Court, despite clear and obvious conflicts, suggests that Roberts refuses to utilize the various limited powers he has. Moral suasion should be enough, but judging by Alito’s recent letter to Congress, he’s not going anywhere.
          Roberts likes to build consensus, but with a 6 to 3 conservative court, consensus is not a priority.
          Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2024 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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