Friday, November 15, 2013

Clarence Thomas Again Ignoring Ethics Of His Position

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has always played fast and loose with judicial ethics (sexual harassment, failure to report family income, speaking at political functions, etc.), and now he's doing it again. He, along with federal appeals court Judge Diane Sykes have agreed to headline the fundraising dinner of the Federalist Society (scheduled for the evening of November 14th).

The problem with that is that the Judicial Code of Ethics doesn't permit federal judges to do that. The Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges bars judges from participating in any fundraising event and specifically states "judge may not be a speaker, guest of honor, or featured on the program" of a fundraising event. Judge Sykes is legally required to abide by that code of ethics. Justice Thomas is not, but Chief Justice Roberts says the justices follow that code even though not legally required to do so. He is obviously wrong when it comes to Justice Thomas.

Fortunately, someone is finally calling these judges on their ethical violation. Rep Louise Slaughter (D-New York) and Common Cause have sent a letter of complaint to Chief Justice Roberts (regarding Thomas' ethical lapse) and filed a formal ethics complaint about Judge Sykes (regarding her ethical violation in appearing at the event). Arn Pearson of Common Cause says:

"Justice Thomas is among several members of the high court who’ve made a habit of flouting judicial ethics by headlining Federalist Society fundraisers. He gets away with it because the Court has exempted itself from the Code, but that doesn’t make it right. Our nation’s highest court should not have the lowest ethical standards. However, that loophole does not extend to Judge Sykes, so we have filed a formal ethics complaint with the Seventh Circuit."

"Judges undermine the integrity of our legal system when they lend their prestige to fundraising efforts, particularly by groups that have an ideological agenda or have proceedings before the courts. It is time to stop the growing politicization of American courts.” 

I agree with this, and commend the action of Rep. Slaughter and Common Cause. It is ridiculous that the Supreme Court has exempted itself from the same ethical rules that all other judges are required to follow. The Supreme Court should not only be subject to the same rules, but should be even more scrupulous in the following of those rules so they can set a good example for all other federal judges to follow.

1 comment:

  1. Thomas would not recognize an ethic even if it jumped up and bit him in the ass.


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