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sábado, febrero 05, 2011

Making The Independent Judiciary A Joke

The independence of the judiciary means that the Courts should be free from improper influence from outside interests. What a great idea for having a transparent, fair judicial system. It's a concept that has so much promise. But in practice the present Supreme Court and its members may be driving it off a cliff. Today's news about Justice Thomas's wife's lobbying business may signal its ultimate demise.

The New York Times reports that Justice Thomas's wife,

who has raised her political profile in the last year through her outspoken conservative activism, is rebranding herself as a lobbyist and self-appointed “ambassador to the Tea Party movement.”

Virginia Thomas, the justice’s wife, said on, a Web site for her new political consulting business, that she saw herself as an advocate for “liberty-loving citizens” who favored limited government, free enterprise and other core conservative issues. She promised to use her “experience and connections” to help clients raise money and increase their political impact.

Can you read that sentence again? "She promised to use her 'experience and connections' to help clients raise money and increase their political impact." Her connections. Well, her biggest, if not her only connection is her husband, who has more than once imposed his wackadoodle analysis of the law on the nation to benefit those who appointed him to the high court and whom he holds close to his heart: Bush v. Gore and Citizens United are only the top of the heap. Her connections indeed.

Of course, lawyers and law professors and others note that this is an ethical outrage:

Ms. Thomas’s effort to take a more operational role on conservative issues could intensify questions about her husband’s ability to remain independent on issues like campaign finance and health care, legal ethicists said.

Justice Thomas “should not be sitting on a case or reviewing a statute that his wife has lobbied for,” said Monroe H. Freedman, a Hofstra Law School professor specializing in legal ethics. “If the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, that creates a perception problem.”...

Arn Pearson, a vice president at Common Cause, a liberal group that has been critical of potential conflicts at the Supreme Court caused by Ms. Thomas’s work, said her new position, combined with Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent address before a closed-door seminar of the Tea Party Caucus, provided further evidence of “the politicization of the court.”

“The level of bias we’re seeing is really troubling,” Mr. Pearson said.

Mr. Friedman is too kind.

And how is it that Ms. Thomas got herself in this position?

Ms. Thomas’s founding of her own political consulting shop, Liberty Consulting, was first reported Thursday by Politico, which said she had begun reaching out to freshmen Republicans in Congress.

The move comes a few months after she gave up the top spot at Liberty Central, a conservative Web site that she founded in 2009 and that has strong links to the Tea Party movement.

An anonymous $500,000 donation to start up Liberty Central came from Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate investor and Republican financier, Politico reported.

Mr. Crow, reached by phone Friday, would not say whether he was the source of the money. “I disclose what I’m required by law to disclose,” he said, “and I don’t disclose what I’m not required to disclose.”

You can be sure that Mr. Crow's $50,000 is just the first drop, and that there will be a torrent of money from others who want to buy influence from Ms. Thomas. And her husband.

And what's this about reaching out to "freshmen Republicans in Congress," the very people who are presently trying to repeal the health care bill either all at once (fail!) or piece by piece by piece? And what's this simultaneous news that the Virginia Attorney General is trying to take the Government's appeal that state's crazy health care decision directly to the Supreme Court?

Just coincidences, I'm sure. Just coincidences. I'm sure the Court can mind its own ethics.

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