Clarence Thomas faces new financial scrutiny

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is under pressure from several fronts following the publication of new information regarding his financial background. House Democrats demand his recusal from the electoral interference case brought by ex-President Donald Trump.

Democrats refer to the court’s new ethics code by invoking the actions of Thomas, his spouse, Ginni Thomas, and her reported efforts to contest the results of the 2020 election.

The split-screen examination reveals the distinct combination of power and autonomy of the influential conservative justice, the most senior judge on the nation’s most prestigious court.

The investigative news site ProPublica reported this week that Thomas, 2000, a Republican legislator, said that Congress should increase the salary of Supreme Court justices.

Thomas, who was a hundred and thousands in debt when he was arrested, stated it was likely that “one or more justices may depart shortly” if this action was delayed, ProPublica reported.

Rep. Cliff Stearns, the congressman of Florida, was reported to be worried about the exchange. “His significance as a conservative politician was very important,” Stearns told ProPublica in an interview. “We wanted to ensure he was at ease working in his position and was getting paid fairly.”

Stearns then wrote Thomas that he was planning to “look at a bill that would increase the salary of judges of The Supreme Court.”

“We have agreed it’s important for Americans to understand the constitution correctly. It is also essential to have the appropriate incentives,” Stearns wrote in January. 11th, 2000 letter.

In private discussions during the same period, Thomas discussed removing a long-standing law prohibiting justices from making speeches for money, ProPublica reported, citing the memo addressed to Chief of Justice William Rehnquist from a top judiciary official.

A senior official named L. Ralph Mecham wrote in the memo that the most likely “prime recipients” of plans to increase the pay of justices “who could otherwise quit the Court” include Justice Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia, another staunch conservative.

Congress did not lift the ban on speaking fees or authorize significant increases in justices’ compensation. The judges were not paid. Thomas nor Scalia died in 2016 and resigned from the justices’ bench.

Thomas’s income in the year 2000 stood at $173,600. The salary of an associate justice in 2023 will be $285,400. This is lower than the one in 2000 when adjusted to reflect inflation.

The Supreme Court did not immediately make a statement on the report that follows a flurry of other recent stories by ProPublica and others on Thomas’s personal and professional history before the bench.

Thomas, appointed to the Supreme Court in 1991 by then-President George H.W. Bush, was in the spotlight for accepting high-value gifts. Some include luxurious trips offered by Republican Megadonor Harlan Crow, which were not reflected on Thomas’s financial disclosures.

Last month, The Senate Judiciary Committee was authorized to issue subpoenas for Crow and prominent conservative activist for the judiciary, Leonard Leo. Republicans on the panel, which Democrats dominate, protested against the decision and accused the majority of members of using politics to harm the judiciary with a 6-3 majority of conservatives.

A spokesperson for the Judiciary Chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, declined to comment on the most recent report.

Request for Refusal

In the meantime, a small group composed of 8 House Democrats is pushing Thomas to withdraw from one the more watched issues in the Supreme Court: a particular attorney, Jack Smith, bid to quickly sink Trump’s claim to “presidential immunity” in the federal case of election interference.

The Democrats asserted that Thomas’s spouse, Ginni Thomas, in attempts to challenge the election results in 2020, raises “serious concerns” regarding the justice’s capacity to “be or appear to be neutral” in court cases involving the vote or the January. 6 2021, insurrection.

“We insist that you take your time and be able to excuse yourself from this and any other decision.” In Trump’s case, the Democrats sent an email to Thomas.

Smith’s office is pursuing Trump on charges in Washington, D.C., federal court, on allegations of conspiracy to reverse his loss in the 2020 election to president Joe Biden.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and has appealed a U.S. district judge’s recent decision that denied the claim that he’s not subject to criminal prosecutorial charges for most of his actions during his presidency.

Instead of allowing the appeal to be made to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals -which will likely be appealed back before the Supreme Court — Smith in December. 11, asked for the Supreme Court to consider the appeal.

“It is of vital public importance that the claims of the respondent of immunity are resolved in the Court and that the respondent’s trial be completed as quickly as is possible should his claim to immunity be denied,” Smith wrote.

Trump is expected to respond to Smith’s petition before Wednesday.

The Democrats’ letter, written by Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia and sent on Friday, refers to the code of conduct approved by the justices in late June.

The code of conduct advises justices to “disqualify him or herself in an instance where the impartiality of a Justice could reasonably be in doubt.”

Ginni Thomas is “intimately engaged in the campaign of Mr. Trump’s purported efforts to invalidate the 2020 presidential election and to block its ratification — which are the same conspiracies that are at issue in this case,” the Democrats wrote.

They also cited reports that Ginni Thomas had sent text messages urging the then-chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to work to stop Biden’s election and also expressed similar sentiments to state legislators.

Thomas hasn’t indicated that he will withdraw from Trump’s trial.

In the face of negative criticism and a low level of public acceptance, the court has put out the code to “dispel” any “misunderstanding” regarding the fact that the ethics rules do not bind justices of ethics.

A few critics immediately criticized the law for its absence of any mechanism for enforcement or external authority.