Jesus Christ, impeach him already

Clarence Thomas is a shameless crook. Yet again, ProPublica has done the legwork and exposed the corruption.

During his three decades on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas has enjoyed steady access to a lifestyle most Americans can only imagine. A cadre of industry titans and ultrawealthy executives have treated him to far-flung vacations aboard their yachts, ushered him into the premium suites at sporting events and sent their private jets to fetch him — including, on more than one occasion, an entire 737. It’s a stream of luxury that is both more extensive and from a wider circle than has been previously understood.

Like clockwork, Thomas’ leisure activities have been underwritten by benefactors who share the ideology that drives his jurisprudence. Their gifts include:

At least 38 destination vacations, including a previously unreported voyage on a yacht around the Bahamas; 26 private jet flights, plus an additional eight by helicopter; a dozen VIP passes to professional and college sporting events, typically perched in the skybox; two stays at luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica; and one standing invitation to an uber-exclusive golf club overlooking the Atlantic coast.

This accounting of Thomas’ travel, revealed for the first time here from an array of previously unavailable information, is the fullest to date of the generosity that has regularly afforded Thomas a lifestyle far beyond what his income could provide. And it is almost certainly an undercount.

I see the words “luxurious paid vacation” and I have to scramble to the dictionary to figure out what they mean. Clarence Thomas takes for granted that a billionaire will charter a 737 for him.

It doesn’t matter how blatant or extravagant it gets, the other members of the Supreme Court will defend the lack of ethical oversight and the Republicans in congress will close their eyes. American “justice” is a joke.


  1. Rich Woods says

    impeach him already

    That always goes well.

    I suppose there’d be the minor entertainment of watching idiots bending over backwards to contort their excuses into something approximating a defence for Thomas’ good fortune in having so many generous friends, but once impeachment had failed it would forever be referred to as him being “fully cleared of all allegations, and shame on you for bringing up again these sordid smears upon a good man’s character”.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Billionaries: Buys Ceaucescu’s former palace in central Bucarest, lets Clarence Thomas rent it as summer cottage for 50 bucks per week.

    Republicans: ” perfectly normal , nothing to see here”

  3. birgerjohansson says

    Russian oligarch: Buys Clarence Thomas a circumlunar journey with a Zond/Proton spaceship.

    Republicans: “a heroic effort to overcome the tension between our nations”.

  4. raven says

    The US Supreme Court has lost all of what political scientists call legitimacy.
    It no longer is a court ruling on the law but a political football owned by the extreme right wing christofascists.
    It is no longer about justice and now is all about power.

    When a court loses its legitimacy, the rest of us have the option of just ignoring their decisions. They have no enforcement mechanism except the other branches of government and the people.
    It’s common and been done before.
    The US South has been ignoring the law and Supreme court decisions on racial integration and equal justice since they lost the Civil War until…this morning.

    Clarence Thomas isn’t the only bent judge on the court either.
    Alito is just as bad or worse. The other right wingnuts aren’t all that great either.

  5. Akira MacKenzie says

    “…impeach him already.”

    I wish, but we all know the Constitution: First you need the House to impeach him, and that august body is in the control of the very people who are bribing Thomas. Then you need a 2/3rd Senate majority to convict and remove. Again, not going to happen thanks to the right.

    Yet somehow, this arrangement makes the slave-owning liars who started this shithole country and wrote these moronic rules “geniuses.”

  6. raven says

    Jesus Christ, impeach him already

    Nice idea but we don’t have the votes.

    If we had the votes, we could also impeach Alito, Amy Barrett, Roberts, etc.. and replace them with more mainstream judges.
    Or just expand the court to dilute out the right wingnuts.

    Are we going to let 6 unelected judges wreck a nation of 340 million people?
    Right now, the answer is yes.

    We do outnumber them by 57 million to one though.
    If enough of those 340 million people wake up, we don’t have to take this.

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 6

    When a court loses its legitimacy, the rest of us have the option of just ignoring their decisions.

    And a million lanyard-wearing, liberal poli-sci nerds just swooned and fell onto their fainting couches.

    “No! That would go… go… AGAINST THE PROCESS!!!!”

  8. Walter Solomon says

    Isn’t this the same Clarence Thomas who claimed on 60 Minutes he and his wife spent their leisure time driving around the country in their trailer visiting the commonors at Wal-Mart not very long ago?

    It was an obvious lie then and has been shown since to be complete bullshit.

  9. says

    sent their private jets to fetch him — including, on more than one occasion, an entire 737

    Why would you even want that? That’s like booking an entire restaurant for a lunch date. That would feel so awkward.

  10. billseymour says

    I recently looked into the cost of chartering a plane and blogged about it.  Fortunately, I came to my senses.

    Back to the topic of the main post:  I certainly agree that impeachment of most of the current justices would be the ethical thing to do; but, as others have pointed out, that isn’t really possible at present.

    And I think Akira MacKenzie @10 has described why simply ignoring them won’t work either.

  11. lotharloo says

    The other problem is that more than half of the Democrats are also lacking what one might call “backbone”. Even if Democrats has 80% of the Senate and the House, they would not have impeached.

  12. says

    All those GIFTS had no effect on how Thomas thinks and rules in cases.

    I hate to say this, but stuffin may be right. It’s not like Thomas’s thinking or public statements show any significant change at any point in his judicial career; or any noticeable questioning of any of the right-wing dogma that drives him. Part of me wants to laugh at all his benefactors for wasting so much money bribing someone who was always obediently in their camp from day one, and would never — and quite possibly COULD NEVER — have thought of switching sides.

    Seriously, Thomas may be greedy and a totally spoiled, corrupt stooge; but he’s always been driven by bitterness, resentment, and loyalty to people who hate the same people he does. I’m not sure he’d ever be willing to stand up for a minute and say “I won’t rule for you unless you give me more money/chartered flights/whatever.” Hurting the people who allegedly hurt him is too important to him.

  13. billseymour says

    I think Raging Bee @17 is right:  Thomas was a disgusting human being long before any of the gifts started arriving.  He just happily accepts them because he’s utterly shameless.

  14. says

    There is an old episode of “Behind the bastards” podcast about Thomas. His politics are weird, to put it mildly. Their analysis is that Thomas is a seperatist/nationalist who wants to see mainstream institutions destroyed so POC can build a new Liberia inside US society, or something like that. Basically he was so traumatized by being an affirmative action admission to law school that he wants all affirmative action destroyed. He sounds like a semi-coherent ball of hate. But now we know he’s greedy, dishonest, and corrupt – which actually makes him more mainstream, perhaps even ordinary.

  15. robro says

    PZ @ #12 — “Right. Touring the common folk in his quarter-million dollar RV.”

    An RV paid for in part with a “loan” from Anthony Welters, a former executive at UnitedHealthCare and close friend of the Thomas’s. Fer sure they’re close. Wonder how much the loan was, if the Thomas’s paid off that loan, what the interest rate was, etc.

    Welters is rich of course, tho how rich is taking to much time to figure out. Welters was also a donor to the Obama campaign to the tune of $200k to $500k, plus $100k for the inauguration. His wife was ambassador to Oman.

    And we wonder what our private and employer-provided health insurance with its ever increasing co-pays is paying for. Silly us.

  16. robro says

    stuffin @ #2 — Of course, Thomas isn’t being “bribed” for changing his opinions and rulings. He’s just one of the gang. He’s being rewarded for being faithful to his rich cronies, and his backers in the GOP. It’s just as corrupt and reprehensible. Still, we can’t really know what would have happened if there wasn’t the money.

  17. Pierce R. Butler says

    Thomas just wants to follow in the template created by his mentor and model Antonin Scalia – who, according to one obituary I failed to archive, took approximately two luxury vacations on other people’s tabs every month.

  18. seversky says

    There is corruption at even the highest levels of the judicial system? Quelle surprise!

    That reminds me, I must order my baseball cap with the slogan “Abort The Court!” on the front.

  19. birgerjohansson says

    You know, Lincoln added extra judges to the supreme court. Then again, he was in posession of a spine.

  20. robro says

    It doesn’t matter how blatant or extravagant it gets, the other members of the Supreme Court will defend the lack of ethical oversight and the Republicans in congress will close their eyes. American “justice” is a joke.

    Several of the other members of the court are doing the same thing as Thomas, so of course, they aren’t interested in “ethical oversight”. Nor are Republicans in congress because they’ve got their hands in the pockets of the very wealthy. I’m not too sure about Democrats…at least some of them.

  21. says

    He just happily accepts them because he’s utterly shameless.

    I don’t think Thomas ever does anything “happily.” His entire life and career have been about taking whatever The Man gives him, because, in his worldview at least, that’s all he can ever get. That’s what he’s doing now, because that’s all he’s ever known, and he never grew enough self-respect to get off that track.

  22. says

    It was about five years ago that undeclared income or insider trading (or both) over half a million was exposed, and the IRS did nothing. And is still doing nothing today. Is there some sort of exemption from taxes going on?

    If a person on welfare makes $100 in undeclared income, they will be investigated and punished, losing all benefits. But if a corrupt judge takes a six figure bribe, nothing happens.

  23. StevoR says

    @ ^ Raging Bee : Yes.

    Outback is an Aussie word for, well, Country beyond our cities, biomes of the Bush. Back of Bourke
    (,_New_South_Wales) especially. It’s something, an environment, vast open living growing special places, you need to experience for yourself really.. I do not have the words for it. Not tangible. Plus I’m not even indigenous – a migrant of European Auussie & British Aussie origin.

    Fynbos, I gather Is (ecologically) close though never been to South Africa to say for sure.

    Not sure how that slogan works either.

    Anyhow the fact that Jesus never stuck dead or notably cursed doucehbags like Thomas = perhaps the best evidece f his non-existence and impotence of all.

  24. StevoR says

    Are SCOTUS Justices above the law themsleves?

    If not, why not?

    If so, how do we change that and what will we do about that?

  25. crivitz says

    These bribes essentially are nothing more than pocket change for these billionaires so even though Thomas may be ideologically aligned with them, throwing him a few bonus coins helps to ensure his loyalty.

  26. StevoR says

    SCOTUS being allowed to exist as it currently is and do the damage it is currently doing is just beyond infuriating. So totally unethical and broken and wrong and so badly needing permanent change & remedy-ing.

    C’mon Americans! Carn Biden & Democratic party! How can you let this blatantly obvs evil, corrupted and fouled up shit go on and stand?!

  27. robro says

    StevoR @ #31 — Judges can be impeached. Here’s a recap I found to the question have any Supreme Court justices be impeached:

    In 1804, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Associate Justice Samuel Chase. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, Chase was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President George Washington in 1796. A Federalist, Chase irked Thomas Jefferson and his Republican allies in Congress, and was impeached on politically motivated charges of acting in a partisan manner during several trials. However, in 1805 Chase was acquitted by the Senate. He served on the court until his death in 1811.

    In 1969, Abe Fortas became the first—and, to date, only—Supreme Court justice to resign under the threat of impeachment. Named to the court by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, Fortas was forced to step down due to financial improprieties that involved him agreeing to act as a paid consultant to the family foundation of a man under investigation for securities fraud.

    In addition to Samuel Chase, 14 federal judges (who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate) have been impeached over the course of American history, on charges ranging from drunkenness on the bench to accepting bribes. The first impeachment was in 1803 and the most recent was in 2010. Eight of the jurists were convicted by the Senate and removed from office, while three were acquitted and three resigned.

  28. robro says

    Intransitive @ #29

    Is there some sort of exemption from taxes going on?

    Not explicitly, of course, but from what I’ve read repeatedly, the IRS is so under-funded they don’t have the resources to pursue much litigation. Their resources are constrained because, of course, the GOP wants to cut government costs. It’s just an accidentally side-effect that very rich tax cheats can weasel out of paying their taxes.

    As for regular joes getting in trouble with the IRS for not paying, errors in their returns, etc…which I know all too well…when you get the notice that you owe, you try to pay it or work something out with them (they’ll arrange terms). If you’re really rich and owe millions, the letter goes to accountants and lawyers who handle the negotiation process. As long as you keep the process going, you stay out of court…from what I understand. You may pay some from time-to-time, but a trifling from what the IRS says you owe.

  29. pacal says

    Given the huge scale, in monetary terms, of the “gifts” given to Thomas I would not be surprised if the scale of the “gifts” exceeded in some or many years Thomas’ salary!! Certainly the 747 alone would possibly exceed Thomas’ yearly salary.

    As too the question of whether or not these “gifts” affect Thomas’ judicial decisions. That is not particularily relevant. Why? Well because it is a well known principle in law regarding the behavior of Judges that even the apperance of corruption is bad. It doesn’t look good that Thomas accepts year after year on such an epic scale, compared to his salary, such “gifts”. Further given the scale of such “gifts” isn’t it rather clear that some of this should be classified has income and taxed accordingly. And since it appears Thomas did not report much of this Income Tax evasion seems rather obvious on his part.

    If a Lower Court Judge was accepting and recieving such an epic scale of “gifts” he or she would be in trouble. It is obvious that Thomas is using his position to solicit such “gifts”. Much like a corrupt bureaucrat will use his position to do the same.

  30. Bad Bart says

    Throwing Thomas rewards for his pre-existing positions is also a subtle enticement to others to adopt the same positions. “See how well we take care of our friends!” is a time-honored recruiting pitch.

  31. robro says

    Pacal — Several Federal judges have been accused, charged, tried…and convicted of bribery. Some of them resigned their position, some were impeached, some were exonerated. In fact the first Federal judge impeached and removed from office, George Turner in 1796, was charged with bribery. Abe Forbes resigned from the Supreme Court in 1969 rather than face impeachment for accepting a $20k per year retainer from the family foundation of a Wall Street financier who was a friend and former client. By the way, Fortas was appointed by Lyndon Johnson, so…no surprise…corruption is not unique to Republicans.

  32. =8)-DX says

    Yachts and private jets? I think you’ll find that isn’t bribery, I’m sure Clarence Thomas has never boarded the gravy train. =8)-DX

  33. birgerjohansson says

    After his death, no doubt some Republicans will suggest we should set up statues of Clarence Thomas for being such a pioneer for Black Americans. Or rename the Martin Luther King day in his honor.

  34. charles says

    Hasn’t the Chief Justice expressed concern for the reputation of His court? And sometimes voted contrary to expectations. Maybe a few letters to him may have an effect.

  35. wzrd1 says

    charles @ 42, the SCOTUS is utterly immune to public pressure.
    Literally, they ignore such correspondence and there’s literally no suggestion that such is even read, tabulated or simply not tossed into the circular file. Public pressure via protest, that generates a demand for armed guards.
    It’s literally like protesting and letter writing to a foreign adversarial ambassador.
    And absolutely no lawful recourse, given the current political climate.
    Other recourses are possible, but positively byzantine or requiring absurd finances, or one, which isn’t lawful and won’t be discussed. Not because I distrust members of this forum, but because this forum is searchable and would then be latched upon by some rather lawless people and engaged upon. Fully pulling the pin on a hand grenade, without holding the safety lever, inside of a bunker full of high explosives.
    What we need is a lone werewolf, to turn such justices. Shit, werewolves are evil, they’re already turned into vampires somehow and vampires are immune to werewolves or something.
    Although, I suspect Putin suddenly expiring might have a beneficial effect. That said, it’s not a six sigma strength supported suggestion or theory, really only preponderance of evidence. China riding along and supporting, as China’s always used satellite states to support and protect her.

    There are times I’m quite certain that I don’t drink enough.

  36. Doc Bill says

    Back in the day we saved our money, saved our vacation and took the kids to Six Flags in Dallas.

    (Historical note. My family took me to Six Flags the year it opened. Look it up. It was in a forest, not the middle of Dallas! Best vacation ever!)

    We stayed at a Best Western with a pool (!) and ate at the local Denny’s, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and IHOP. To this day the kids say it was the best vacation ever.

    No billionaires. No yachts. No jets.

  37. wzrd1 says

    Our vacations were a week in the forest backpack camping. And every time, we’d have a bear walk through camp. Since the food was in a bear bag well up a tree, the only danger might’ve been if one stepped on the tent (which did happen once).
    Of course, the bear happened to be in a big hurry as it rounded the tent, as the dog was angrily chasing it. Hilarious one, given the dog was a small terrier that looked like Toto and was 16 years old at the time.
    Got a free fireworks show as well, given we were on the Appalachian Trail just north of Fort Indiantown Gap and could see the artillery impact area from our camp.
    No yachts or jets either, that must’ve been in my other backpack.