It’s called a bribe

It’s pretty simple, actually. Right-wingers have been bribing Clarence Thomas for years.

Conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo arranged for the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to be paid tens of thousands of dollars for consulting work just over a decade ago, specifying that her name be left off billing paperwork, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post.

In January 2012, Leo instructed the GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway to bill a nonprofit group he advises and use that money to pay Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the documents show. The same year, the nonprofit, the Judicial Education Project, filed a brief to the Supreme Court in a landmark voting rights case.

Leo, a key figure in a network of nonprofits that has worked to support the nominations of conservative judges, told Conway that he wanted her to “give” Ginni Thomas “another $25K,” the documents show. He emphasized that the paperwork should have “No mention of Ginni, of course.”

Harlan Crow has been celebrating this with his bought-and-paid for super-realistic art. It’s all the same small circle of cronies and their apologists.

It’s like a crime family. Charming.


  1. robro says

    Was that photo taken at Bohemian Grove by any chance? The statue seems familiar.

  2. Artor says

    So, these things are actual crimes, aren’t they? Anyone else would be prosecuted for this shit, so why am I only hearing the outrage while nothing happens? Fingers crossed for the move to cut the SCOTUS budget until they establish an ethics code to actually work. It needs to have teeth.

  3. Snarki, child of Loki says

    Don’t remember that VA Governor a decade or so back, caught taking bribes, convicted…tried blaming it on his wife, but then it got appealed up to Supremes where they decided that bribes were a-okay if you’re a GOPer.

  4. canadiansteve says

    @ 3 Artor from what media coverage is saying it appears that no, these are not criminal, merely immoral.
    What really stands out for me as a non-American is the ridiculousness of openly partisan activists being eligible for SC lifetime appointments. What is unclear to me is not whether or not judges (not just Thomas obviously) are bought and paid for, but why anyone is surprised, given this is pretty much the whole purpose of the Federalist society.

  5. says

    All of this seems like public knowledge that is coming to the forefront now that could have been mainstreamed years ago. What has been holding the media from doing this until now in a post COVID, post Trump, world? It’s like Epstein’s sex parties. Like a known secret. Why wasn’t Thomas impeached earlier?

  6. wzrd1 says

    Ray Ceeya, why isn’t Thomas impeached now?
    The answer is simple enough. The US has the absolute best government that money can buy.
    Just not taxpayer money.

  7. Ian R says

    Let’s not forget that Harlan Crow not only paid for various expensive trips for Thomas, but also bought his mother’s home and let her live there rent-free AND paid his kid’s way through an expensive private school.

    To quote Roy Wood Jr, “We can all SEE Clarence Thomas, but he BELONGS to billionaire Harlan Crow. And that’s what an NFT is.”

  8. wzrd1 says

    OT by a lot, but entertaining.
    Someone reported tracing an odd problem with their Android device. Apparently, the Pixel user had an alarm set to wake up in the morning (yeah, total shocker there), which occasionally failed at intermittent intervals and only a backup alarm worked.
    The user one day awakened prematurely, to hear the alarm start and stop.
    User had the alarm set for a streaming playlist, one song triggered the false halts on the alarm, the word STOP being uttered by the singer.

    And again, I gave thanks to the foresight of not activating vox commands on my devices. I shudder to think what my vacuum would consider valid when I exclaimed aloud, “fuck me!”…

    Back to the topic at hand, the office is for life. I see no problem with a citizen’s vigilance committee visitation.
    If they’re exempt from the laws of the land, they’re exempt from the rights of the land as well and hence, outlaws under common law tradition.
    They’re not the only ones who can pervert legal logic, mine has case law to support it, theirs doesn’t.

  9. wzrd1 says

    Oh, for those confused, under UK common law, as of 1776, which we inherited, states a writ of attainder can apply to one’s family goods and properties, retroactive law, properly called ex post facto law can also apply and outlaws are unprotected by any Magna Carta rights or laws, so ordinary citizens can do whatever they wish to the family and individual and goods owned by the outlaw.
    All, outlawed (pun intended) by the US Constitution.
    Hence, my distortion of logic, alongside theirs, applies, sort of.
    Leaving me wondering if Vlad the impaler might be available, if exhumed… ;)

    This all works better when one can see my face and facial expressions. The sarcasm is quite readily apparent and welcomed at parties.
    Although, I’d quite welcome impaling some veggies over a grille. A tidbit of meat as well, for those so interested as I’d be, I am an omnivore. Any takers, bring a grille and some few veggies. And plenty of enjoyment juice of your choosing, ethanol laden or ethanol free. My larder does have some limits.

    I suspect part of the problem is, some refer to members of the SCOTUS as “The Supremes” and some take that to heart.
    Forgetting Jackson’s “if they feel that strongly about that, let them come here and try to enforce it” against the Trail of Tears.
    Setting up a Constitutional crisis that’s never been resolved and should be, as it built into the clusterfuck of today.

    Shall we go back to the grille? I’d love to try some breadfruit.

    No, I’m not psychotic, quite. I just partition. Be a medic, you’ll learn to partition or go insane.
    Partitioning involves putting part of you that wants to suck its thumb in a corner into a mental corner and letting it be as you do what needs to be done.
    After, comes the conflict… There are no classes on dealing with that, as witnessed by staff collapsing in a NICU staff hallway and crying, needing help to be moved along and someone replacing the poor soul. A duty I’d never assume, for just that reason.
    Knowing one’s limits is helpful in life.
    NICU and PICU, no thanks, I’ll salute happily all who serve there.
    That’d destroy me.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    It is OK to bri… to donate unlimited amounts to your congresscritters as long as you launder the money through a super PAC.

    What the supreme court justices have done is simply to streamline the process by cutting out the middleman.
    Just like the founders would have wanted.
    BTW re the debt ceiling shenagians: the president is forced by the constitution to yada yada finance. The constitution overrules the congress.
    Biden can raise the debt ceiling. The Republicans in congress can then take it to the supreme court.
    But if the supreme court rules USA should default on its debt payments, the resulting catastrophe will be squarely pinned on six supreme court judges.
    Considering their character it is far from certain they will dare.
    They are cushy with billionaires and that lot don’t want the economy trashed.

  11. F.O. says

    Now, if only we plebs could afford to buy a judge or two…

    With what face can you call this a democracy?

    What sort of “checks & balances” can withstand the constant erosion by the powerful?

  12. StevoR says

    @1. SC (Salty Current) : “Time for him to resign.”

    Nope. It isn’t.

    Its long overdue that Thomas resigned – or was impeached and even jailed. Actually all the above, start impeaching him, whilst jailing him and force him to resign whilst he sits in prison too! Even with the Repugliklans in Congress, I don’t see why this isn’t being made to happen now and should have happened long ago.

  13. says

    Simply put: we have a political party in control of the Supreme Court and one house of Congress that has already shown itself to be on board with a violent takeover of the government. What’s a little corruption compared to that?
    They made heroes out of people who broke into the capitol, threatened and disrupted congress, and beat cops over the head with flagpoles, all egged on by an outgoing president whom Republicans refused to remove from office and continue to support for another term. They make heroes out of people who shoot protesters and leak classified military secrets. They have people “serving” in congress who have called for breaking up the United States and helping Russia rebuild its empire.
    Why would they even blink at a little bribery?

  14. StevoR says

    @10. drew : “It is not a partisan issue.”

    LOL! Are you serious? SCOTUS Justices appointed and allowed to stay in power despite obviously being corrupt in the most blatantly partisan way isn’t a partisan issue? For real?

    Okay, which Repugliklan figures have called for the impeaching, resignation even jailing of Thomas here then? Who on the reichwing of politics is calling for and objecting to Thomas and his fellow traitor perjurer SCOTUS “Justices” here?

    The whole of our government is corrupt.

    The whole huh? Every single one? Not even, y’know, gunna qualifyy that a little with reference to a few exceptions who actually might not be corrupt like Katie Porter or AOC or Bernie Sanders?

    Denying corruption would be like denying capitalism and we can’t have that, can we?

    No. You could also saying denying it would be like denying the partisan nature of SCOTUS these days.

  15. birgerjohansson says

    You know, F 1 drivers and others who accept sponsor money have to display the logo of respective company in a prominent way.
    Judges and senators who are sponsored should likewise have to wear the corporate logos on their bodies when they appear in a professional capacity.

  16. Bad Bart says

    It’s not so much that it is time for him to resign as he should never have been nominated. But in the post-Bork political climate (it could have been worse…really!), the Senate rejecting 2 nominees in a row would have been untenable.

  17. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    #3 (and #5)

    So, these things are actual crimes, aren’t they?

    Oh. It’s a crime, but you would have to prove criminal intent, aka the judge accepted the money with intent to exchange their services as a judge to vote a certain way. This is basically impossible unless they’re stupid enough to communicate in clear terms about the bribe in mail or email.

    That’s why we have higher ethics standards, e.g. forbidding conflicts of interest. Rules against conflicts of interest are there to have a lower standard of evidence to prevent crimes, but having a mere conflict of interest is not criminal. Having a conflict of interest can be sufficient cause to boot them from the court, but that would require impeachment and removal (conviction) by Congress, and we all know how unlikely that is.

    In normal times, everyone of all parties should agree unanimously that a judge that violates the ethics standards, aka has a severe conflict of interests, and willfully hides those conflit of interests, should be booted from the court.

    These are not normal times. Lots of people on the Republican side and the Democratic side are losing respect for the rule of law (as evidenced by the many conversations that I have here), and they think that judges are there to vote for them instead of voting according to the law. It’s a cultural issue.

    It’s also a systems issue. Let me again offer my suggested fixes:
    – Keep SCOTUS lifetime tenure.
    – Require 75% of the Senate to approve any federal judge, including SCOTUS.
    – Change how SCOTUS judges are selected: Every 2 years, the current president gets to pick one new SCOTUS judge, subject to senate approval (requiring 75% approval). If they cannot come to an agreement within 1 month of the open window for choosing a new SCOTUS judge, then the new SCOTUS judge shall be selected by lottery from all currently serving federal judges.

    Note that under this system, the size of the court will vary over time.

    The intent of this system is to depoliticize the courts through two methods. First, by ensuring that each president gets the same number of SCOTUS appointment. Second, by requiring a large supermajority of the senate to approve each appointment to force compromise.

    To avoid the real possibility of a significant party in the senate refusing to compromise and refusing to approve any appointment, I introduce the lottery system.

    That leaves the possibility that a significant party would refuse to appoint federal judges, but for reasoning that I could go into, I think this is far less likely to happen. It would be comparable to government shutdown over the debt ceiling, which, while real, is far less supported by the general population. Also, it moves the battleground from SCOTUS to merely federal judges, and I think there would be far less appetite from the population to fight over federal judges. At the very least, I think it would be at least a slight improvement over what we have now.


    BTW re the debt ceiling shenagians: the president is forced by the constitution to yada yada finance. The constitution overrules the congress.

    This is nonsense. They could pass every new spending bill with a continuation clause that says “current spending levels shall remain the same until changed by a new spending bill”. The whole debt ceiling crisis and spending bill crisis is just a creation of congress that they could fix tomorrow if they wanted. PS: There is a constitutional requirement that military spending be reapproved every 2 years, so they should have a separate military spending bill without the continuation clause.

  18. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Jesus Christ. It’s so much worse. Apparently Chief Justice John Roberts sent a letter to congress about this, saying that they investigated themselves and all SCOTUS judges are very ethical. Signed by all 9 SCOTUS judges. Fuck every single one of those motherfuckers. If I was within my power, (and if I could ensure better replacements), I would remove all 9 motherfuckers from the court. Signing that letter is IMAO the same thing as condoning Thomas’s undeniable conflicts of interest and highly probable bribery, which means that they’re all guilty as sin. Fuck them all.

  19. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Ok wait, I think I read too quickly and I was misled by LegalEagle. Maybe all 9 justices simply signed the Statement of Ethics Principles and Practices, as opposed to the cover letter from which I draw my quote.

  20. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    I can’t tell if all 9 justices signed the opening cover letter or not. Fuck.

  21. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    At the very least, this is sufficient evidence for me that John Roberts needs to be removed. Co-signing an official public letter defending incontrovertible massive conflicts of interest plus probable corruption means he is unfit to be a judge. Can his ass.

    Sorry for so many posts. I’m just so so mad.

  22. StevoR says

    @22. GerrardOfTitanServer :

    Lots of people on the Republican side and the Democratic side are losing respect for the rule of law (as evidenced by the many conversations that I have here),

    Thing is, how do you even define “rule of law”” when the sytem is so biased and unjust and rigged eg. for the rapist and against their victims, for the rich and against the poor, for the racists and against their targets, ad nauseam?

    Whose laws and whose rule imposed on who and in what contexts?

    There are a lot of really bad and silly and harmful laws passed – exhibit A : Death Santis’es Florida right now. So does something automatically deserve respect simply because its a law? Do “Justices” e.g. Corrupt Thomas & Handmaiden OfBarrett & rapey drunk Kavenaugh get respect just for being appointed to a court often in extremely dubious circumstances?

    No, in my view respect is earnt not just given away even for laws and rulers to say nothing of their supposed enforcing agents. Nothing should be above questioning and reforming where reforms are needed and when it comes to the USA’s and Aussie “Justice” system reforms are needed and some laws, judges and rulers deserve absolute contempt not reverence and unmerited, unearnt, undeserved respect.

  23. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    I’m surprised you still don’t know what the rule of law is. I tried at length to explain it to you previously. I see no reason to try again here, but here I go anyway. tl;dr rule of law says nothing about changing the law through the proper channels, nor “questioning and reforming”. Further, rule of law says nothing about protesting, nor discussing how our elected representatives should change the law. At the first level, rule of law simply is the cultural belief that government should operate according to judges deciding individual cases and controversies according to general laws created by the elected legislature. At the second level, we can introduce the idea of a constitution, and how mere acts of legislature and mere acts of the judiciary should be bound by the constitution, and the separate amendment process to amend the constitution.

    Jesus Christ – you would think that you would have learned this in high school civics and government class. I am depressed by the abject lack of civics knowledge that you seemingly (do not) possess.

    To answer the core of your objection. I’m just repeating myself from the previous thread. Do you really think that throwing out all of the rules, going full anarchy, is going to lead to better outcomes? Really? That’s just supremely foolish. For every ethical norm that the Republicans break, Democrats should break it too, but no further, and Democrats should also simultaneously try to amend the system, to create law, to bring sufficient enforcement for necessary ethical norms.

    But at no point should be openly call for anything further, to call for anarchy and rebellion, as you seem to be doing here, e.g. “No, in my view respect is earnt […] to say nothing of their supposed enforcing agents”. If I didn’t know any better, it sounds like you’re advocating for sovereign citizen nuttiness, like so-called citizen grand juries, and shooting police officers when they’re enforcing a law that you don’t like. You are seemingly blind to the ridiculousness of the things that you are saying. You are part of the problem. Your naive belief system seems to be “the ends justify the means”, and any sort of systems thinking is completely absent, aka any sort of long term thinking about consequences about the structure of the system and its consequences is completely absent.

    No, some amount of respect must be given to cops, juries, judges, and the whole system. Otherwise the whole system will collapse, exactly like what I see in America right now. It’s lack of respect for the system and its ethical norms that is allowing Clarence Thomas to stay on the court. Winning has become more important than the ethical norms for Republicans, and for you too, but what both of you fail to realize is that your winning is short term only, and you don’t see the long term damage that you’re doing.

  24. StevoR says

    @ ^ GerrardOfTitanServer :

    Do you really think that throwing out all of the rules, going full anarchy, is going to lead to better outcomes?

    That’s a strawman and NOT what I’m saying.

    Questioning the rules, putting all of them and our entire legal system up for discussion and reform and change rather than considering them metaphorical “sacred cows” that must always be respected and never questioned or changed or reformed is my actual postion here. Thought we’d discussed this enough that you might have grasped that by now. Seems not. Sigh.

    <B;lockquote>No, some amount of respect must be given to cops, juries, judges, and the whole system.

    Some? Really? When the entire system fails to make sense and is badly broken, rigged and harmful? When ithas shown it does not deserve respect, respect it anyhow?

    Or y’know, instead maybe we could point out its flaws and failures and constantly work to improve it so that things get better and progress? That’s what I’m doing.

    Yes. this includes at a very funadamental level like say shifting from an adverserial, traditional, out-dated, no-longer fit for purpose British-American adverserial system where too often buying better lawyers is equivalent to buying verdicts and “Justice” to a nn-adverserial legal system like that procticed in most European nations, Chian and Japan :

    Is calling for that really thesame as calling fro anarchy and rebellion? I really don’t think so.

    Is criticising the systems and Jsutices and laws a bad thing or the first step in changing them to make them better?