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Should Justice Thomas be able to rule on Health Care?

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
To make a long story short, Rep. Anthony Weiner and 73 other members of Congress are saying that Justice Clarence Thomas has a conflict of interest if he ever has to consider the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. His wife, a lobbyist, had received $686,589 from the Heritage foundation (an outspoken opponent of PPACA) from 2004-2007. Apparently Justice Thomas failed to disclose this fact.

I'll post a link and article below, which contains some of the info I had above and contains Rep. Weiner's letter to Justice Thomas.

Thoughts?

Weiner: Clarence Thomas Should Bow Out of Health Cases | New York Daily News
Weiner: Clarence Thomas Should Bow Out of Health Cases

BY Michael McAuliff


Rep. Anthony Weiner says Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from any health reform cases cases that come before the high court, and he and 73 other Congress members have formally asked him to in a letter.


Their problem is that Thomas' wife, Virginia, has reportedly earmed money lobbying against the health insurance reform law.
"As an Associate Justice, you are entrusted with the responsibility to exercise the highest degree of discretion and impartiality when deciding a case," Weiner and Co. wrote.


"As Members of Congress, we were surprised by recent revelations of your financial ties to leading organizations dedicated to lobbying against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," they wrote. "We write today to respectfully ask that you maintain the integrity of this court and recuse yourself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of this act."


They point to her touting her connentions to clients who want the health reform law tossed. One of those connections might be considered to be her husband, they argue, and say Thomas should duck any cases that raise the appearance of a conlict of interest.


They also note that Thomas had failed to disclose the $686,589 that Virginia Thomas earned from the health reform-opposing Heritage Foundation from 2003 to 2007, and that his wife stood to gain from his decision in the Citizens United case.


Here is the full letter:


The Honorable Justice Clarence Thomas
United States Supreme Court Building
1 First Street Northeast
Washington D.C., DC 20543

Dear Justice Thomas:

As an Associate Justice, you are entrusted with the responsibility to exercise the highest degree of discretion and impartiality when deciding a case. As Members of Congress, we were surprised by recent revelations of your financial ties to leading organizations dedicated to lobbying against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We write today to respectfully ask that you maintain the integrity of this court and recuse yourself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of this act.

The appearance of a conflict of interest merits recusal under federal law. From what we have already seen, the line between your impartiality and you and your wife's financial stake in the overturn of healthcare reform is blurred. Your spouse is advertising herself as a lobbyist who has “experience and connections” and appeals to clients who want a particular decision - they want to overturn health care reform. Moreover, your failure to disclose Ginny Thomas’s receipt of $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent opponent of healthcare reform, between 2003 and 2007 has raised great concern.

This is not the first case where your impartiality was in question. As Common Cause points out, you “participated in secretive political strategy sessions, perhaps while the case was pending, with corporate leaders whose political aims were advanced by the [5-4] decision” on the Citizens United case. Your spouse also received an undisclosed salary paid for by undisclosed donors as CEO of Liberty Central, a 501(c)(4) organization that stood to benefit from the decision and played an active role in the 2010 elections.

Given these facts, there is a strong conflict between the Thomas household’s financial gain through your spouse’s activities and your role as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. We urge you to recuse yourself from this case. If the US Supreme Court's decision is to be viewed as legitimate by the American people, this is the only correct path.

We appreciate your thoughtful consideration of this request.

Sincerely,
ANTHONY D. WEINER
Member of Congress
 

Ilus_Unistus

Registered Member
Very nice post Unity, and for American's an important issue.

Even though this issue has no effect to me, I do wish someday to live and even become citizen to America.

It will be interesting to see what Thomas' response will be to this letter, as I feel it is a direct conflict of interest for him to be able to make rulings on an issue his wife already lobbies for, or against in this matter.

She has earned much money in the interest to prevent this healthcare bill, and to me it makes no difference if Thomas and his wife agree on the issue, it is irrelevant. The fact is Thomas and his wife BOTH have benifitted from her position in this matter making it a direct conflict of interest.

I see no way this matter can be defended by anyone, even Thomas himself. But to the matter Thomas did not disclose this information should not go without some form of investigation and or penalties. With his position as Supreme Court Judge I would, for one think this is important information to be disclosed and I am sure Thomas knows this. It is not a direct lie Thomas has told, it is the lack of information that to me, that makes this a lie.
 

CaptainObvious

Embrace the Suck
V.I.P.
No, this isn't a conflict of interest. One it was his wife who recieved the money, and secondly, just because the Heritage Foundation opposes the ACA doesn't mean she does. I'm a member of the Heritage Foundation. That doesn't mean I subscribe to everything they support and don't support. And thirdly, the ruling is on the Constitutionality of the ACA, not whether it's good or bad.

Lastly, Anthony Weiner is an idiot, but that's just my opinion and not germaine to the topic at hand, other than I'm not surprised he's leading this.

EDIT: By this logic, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse herself in just about every Constitutional case since the ACLU is either directly involved in most cases or at the very least filed amicus curie briefs, since she was actually employed by them as counsel. They have filed such briefs in cases regarding the ACA, where is Anthony Weiner's letter asking her to recuse herself? Afterall, I would argue that is a much more close involvment than Thomas's.
 
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Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
One it was his wife who recieved the money

secondly, just because the Heritage Foundation opposes the ACA doesn't mean she does.

And thirdly, the ruling is on the Constitutionality of the ACA, not whether it's good or bad.
1, Like Ilus had said there's a really good chance that he benefited from the money in daily life...regardless of who's name was on the check.

2, Good point but it doesn't mean that she doesn't oppose PPACA either.

3, I think the issue that Rep. Weiner (I'm actually a big fan of his passion for issues and intelligence in discussing them) and the other 73 Congress members are bringing up is that due to this circumstance - which is sketchy because it was undisclosed - Justice Thomas might not be able to draw a clear enough line between Good/Bad and Constiutional/Unconstitutional. I don't know for a fact whether he can or not, but I've seen a lot of citizens doing so with PPACA.

These three paragraphs from above kind of help to continue to question that...and I think that given the information below, questioning it is a healthy thing to do. Outside of PPACA, the second question raises some concerns about the link to having a lobbyist wife:

The appearance of a conflict of interest merits recusal under federal law. From what we have already seen, the line between your impartiality and you and your wife's financial stake in the overturn of healthcare reform is blurred. Your spouse is advertising herself as a lobbyist who has “experience and connections” and appeals to clients who want a particular decision - they want to overturn health care reform. Moreover, your failure to disclose Ginny Thomas’s receipt of $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent opponent of healthcare reform, between 2003 and 2007 has raised great concern.

This is not the first case where your impartiality was in question. As Common Cause points out, you “participated in secretive political strategy sessions, perhaps while the case was pending, with corporate leaders whose political aims were advanced by the [5-4] decision” on the Citizens United case. Your spouse also received an undisclosed salary paid for by undisclosed donors as CEO of Liberty Central, a 501(c)(4) organization that stood to benefit from the decision and played an active role in the 2010 elections.

Given these facts, there is a strong conflict between the Thomas household’s financial gain through your spouse’s activities and your role as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. We urge you to recuse yourself from this case. If the US Supreme Court's decision is to be viewed as legitimate by the American people, this is the only correct path.
 

MenInTights

not a plastic bag
To make a long story short, Rep. Anthony Weiner and 73 other members of Congress are saying that Justice Clarence Thomas has a conflict of interest if he ever has to consider the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. His wife, a lobbyist, had received $686,589 from the Heritage foundation (an outspoken opponent of PPACA) from 2004-2007. Apparently Justice Thomas failed to disclose this fact.

I'll post a link and article below, which contains some of the info I had above and contains Rep. Weiner's letter to Justice Thomas.

Thoughts?

Weiner: Clarence Thomas Should Bow Out of Health Cases | New York Daily News
But she received the money before Obama was even elected. ObamaCare wasn't even a twinkle in Sen. Obama's eye at the time.
 

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
EDIT: By this logic, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse herself in just about every Constitutional case since the ACLU is either directly involved in most cases or at the very least filed amicus curie briefs, since she was actually employed by them as counsel. They have filed such briefs in cases regarding the ACA, where is Anthony Weiner's letter asking her to recuse herself? Afterall, I would argue that is a much more close involvment than Thomas's.
So is she directly or indirectly receiving money from them while on the bench, and is she working with them on filing those briefs related to PPACA?
------
But she received the money before Obama was even elected. ObamaCare wasn't even a twinkle in Sen. Obama's eye at the time.
I'd argue that it's relevant because health care reform has been a work in progress for decades. What just passed is similar to what Republicans proposed to counter Bill Clinton's ideas for reform in the early 90's, after all. The ideas, attempts at passing serious reform, etc. aren't directly tied to President Obama's time in office.
 
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CaptainObvious

Embrace the Suck
V.I.P.
1, Like Ilus had said there's a really good chance that he benefited from the money in daily life...regardless of who's name was on the check.

2, Good point but it doesn't mean that she doesn't oppose PPACA either.
But that's his wife, not him. And again, by Rep. Weiner's logic, Ginsburg and Breyer are liberals and were members of the Democratic Party. Obama is a Democrat and passed ACA. Thus, by implication, they already agree, especially Gindsburg as a member of the ACLU. So let's recuse ALL of them and the prior ruling stands.


3, I think the issue that Rep. Weiner (I'm actually a big fan of his passion for issues and intelligence in discussing them) and the other 73 Congress members are bringing up is that due to this circumstance - which is sketchy because it was undisclosed - Justice Thomas might not be able to draw a clear enough line between Good/Bad and Constiutional/Unconstitutional. I don't know for a fact whether he can or not, but I've seen a lot of citizens doing so with PPACA.
I won't argue about his passion, but in drafting his arguments and his one-sidedness I disagree about discussing them intelligently. The point is, whether it was disclosed is a separate issue. The issue is does this affect his impartiality? It's a HUGE stretch to argue that it does for the above listed reasons.

EDIT: Has Rep Weiner sent a letter to Elena Kagan asking her to recuse herself, with her being solicitor general in the Obama administration when this piece of legislation was being discussed? If ANYONE can't draw a line between what is and what isn't Constitutional in THIS case, it's her, wouldn't you agree?
 
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Wade8813

Registered Member
My first thought on this was that it sounds bad, but that it was awfully convenient that they happened to find a judge who they disagreed with to ask to stay out.

But CO's post makes me unsure - I would want to look more into both the specific situation here, and also with Ginsburg, and compare the two. Although I would say that the fact that it was his wife and not him specifically seems like it shouldn't matter too much (assuming that he and his wife are still together, share bank accounts, etc)

EDIT - Has the SCotUS done anything with the PPACA yet? Because if not, why would we expect him to disclose stuff already?
 
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Ilus_Unistus

Registered Member
But she received the money before Obama was even elected. ObamaCare wasn't even a twinkle in Sen. Obama's eye at the time.

I would agree with Wade to this issue, I also think it is irrelevant when she accepted this money or who was in office at this time. The fact is Thomas now has the power (with others) to make a decision of this matter that his wife lobbied against.

As for CO's point that maybe she did not directly lobby against this Healthcare issue, I would need to see proof she had no direct links to it, I can find nothing to say either way... but may be a valid point CO.
 

CaptainObvious

Embrace the Suck
V.I.P.
But she received the money before Obama was even elected. ObamaCare wasn't even a twinkle in Sen. Obama's eye at the time.
That is a really good point, not one I had noticed. Thus I stand by my statement that Rep. Weiner's argument is fundamentally flawed. So again, Ginsburg was a member of the ACLU, thus by his logic, she should recuse herself in every case the ACLU is even remotely involved, no matter how long ago that was or whether she had any direct involvement in the case.

I'm going to make a prediction, many pundits like Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, etc..are going to jump on this, especially if he doesn't recuse himself and hears the case. Yet never even come close to tying Kagan to the case or any other examples like Ginsburg.
 
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