Left Wing: Tea Partier Crashes the Supreme Court

This Week in Progressive and Liberal Media:

TPM’s Zachary Roth has found it entertaining to note how Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, “uses stock photos to convey the impression of minority support for conservative goals” on the Web site of her new, much-discussed Tea Party–inspired organization, Liberty Central. He shows two photos of smiling, minority families, both of which, he writes, can be found on a stock-photo Web site. “In reality, Liberty Central is a rather more establishment production than the shots of happy middle-class minority families suggest,” writes Roth. One day earlier he reported how Liberty Central will have Leonard Leo, executive vice president with the Federalist Society, as its director.

“In a 1995 speech to the Federalist Society, Clarence Thomas, a member of the society, described Leo as 'my good friend.' A prominent conservative legal scholar and activist, Leo played a key role in successfully shepherding the Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito through the Senate confirmation process,” writes Roth. He added that neither Virginia Thomas nor Leonard Leo responded to TPMMuckraker's requests for comment. While the creation of the organization is legal, writes Roth, he brings up several different shades of gray that are bothering those opposed to her new venture. “Thanks to the Supreme Court's recent 5-4 ruling in the Citizens United case, in which Clarence Thomas voted with the majority, Liberty Central can use corporate money to run ads advocating the election or defeat of candidates.”

This isn’t the first time the conflict-of-interest issue has cropped up for the justice and his wife. Commondreams.org and Progressive.org both have threads focused around a 2000 New York Times story titled “Job of Thomas's Wife Raises Conflict-of-Interest Questions” in which reporter Christopher Marquis describes her work at the Heritage Foundation, gathering résumés for potential appointments in the possible upcoming Bush administration even while the Supreme Court was examining Bush v. Gore. “"There is no conflict here," Mrs. Thomas said in an interview. She insisted that she rarely discussed matters before the Supreme Court with her husband and that Justice Thomas, therefore, should not consider recusing himself from the landmark case.”

Daily Kos diarist Old Redneck touches on the corporate-finance question and points out: “Of course, the Thomases could avoid the appearance of evil by two simple steps: 1. Liberty Central could disclose its donors.   Same way the Clinton Foundation does. 2. Justice Thomas could recuse himself from cases involving those donors. The Old Redneck is not holding his breath until either (1) or (2) happens.  Hell will freeze over first.” Old Redneck, however, failed to remind readers that Bill Clinton only revealed his donors under pressure to ease his wife’s road to confirmation as Secretary of State.