Calmes: Clarence Thomas’ Jan. 6 conflicts of interest are showing again
Clarence Thomas is making news again today, but not in ways we would expect in a judge.
First, it is not a judge, not even a Supreme Court Justice, who is getting into the news. It is Justice Clarence Thomas, who is getting into the news.
The facts of Justice Thomas’ conflicts of interest are simple and they are not difficult to understand.
On Jan. 2, Thomas filed a motion to recuse himself from any cases involving issues that arise during his confirmation hearings. The motion was prompted by his public service record, which includes his service as a U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, his service as a federal prosecutor and as an academic professor.
Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit agreed with Thomas that these conflicts required Justice Thomas to recuse himself from cases in which he participated when he was a lawyer — which was all the cases about which he now brings news.
Justice Thomas’ problem stems, not just from his history, but from his practice of law.
His practice has involved at least three types of cases over his entire career:
In his brief, Justice Thomas cites 28 cases among others for which he has already been asked to recuse himself. And in an affidavit from his former law firm, Thomas’ law firm, Thomas’ former law firm and two outside firms that Thomas used to practice law are asked to answer questions about a range of issues, including whether any of Thomas’ past partners were clients of the firm that is now asking Justice Thomas to recuse himself.
In addition, Thomas’ affidavit says that he had, and has, a “significant personal financial interest” in those cases, as he has been paid by three of the cases and has received significant payments from one of them. Thomas says he has had to use his personal finances for “important political activities as a public servant,” because he has represented a political rival and other individuals.
This is not in dispute. And while it is unlikely that Thomas’ financial motives in the past involved conflicts, it is likely that his current motivations involve conflicts that will arise if he is confirmed. These are the facts that Justice Thomas has made public and they are the facts that