“The Supreme Court is facing a serious legitimacy crisis,” former Labor Secretary Robert Reich said in a Twitter video last week, “failing to hold Clarence Thomas accountable for this latest ethics abuse will only make it worse.”
Holding Republican public officials “accountable” for supposed “abuses” is a disturbing trend in a Democratic Party determined to cling to power by any means necessary.
Just two days before the leftist ProPublica website revealed that Justice Thomas visits personal friends who happen to be very rich, New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg unveiled a dubious criminal case against former president Donald Trump.
Now the same Democratic politicians and allied media who celebrated Bragg’s possible breach of prosecutorial ethics are demanding Thomas’s head on a platter, with many arguing that he should resign or be impeached.
His crime? Thomas has occasionally accepted invitations from his friend Harlan Crow, a businessman who hosted Thomas at his vacation home in upstate New York, his Texas ranch, the elite Bohemian Grove gathering in California, and, worst of all, on his yacht, with transportation by private jet.
Under the ethics rules that applied to Supreme Court Justices at all relevant times, however, Crow’s generosity was above board.
The operative rules do not require Justices to report almost any form of hospitality. A month ago, reformed rules added a requirement that they declare private jet travel.
Thomas publicly stated that he will abide by the new rule, and that he consulted fellow members of the federal judiciary on the general rules.
“It’s not unethical for a Supreme Court Justice to have rich friends,” Manhattan Institute Supreme Court scholar Ilya Shapiro told me, “it’s also not a violation of any judicial code not to declare personal hospitality, regardless of amount.”
Crow, who has attested to his long friendship with Thomas, has had no business before the Supreme Court or in any other sphere of government where Thomas could have intervened.
One might wonder whether the same could be said of Democratic billionaire David Rubenstein, who has twice hosted President Joe Biden and his family at his $20 million Nantucket compound, including when the Carlyle Group, Rubenstein’s private equity firm, was actively lobbying the Biden administration for its interests to be included in the Build Back Better program.
Last August, Biden also accepted a family vacation at the $20 million South Carolina home of major Democratic donor Maria Allwin, from whom the president reportedly solicited an invitation.
Most media have ignored the possible ethical implications of these generous stays, and no action has been taken against Biden, though House Republicans are investigating his and his family’s alleged financial links to China.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has demanded Thomas’s resignation and threatened to introduce articles of impeachment against him if he fails to resign.
Last June, however, the Office of Congressional Ethics board unanimously found “substantial reason to believe” that in 2021 Ocasio-Cortez “may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law” by accepting expensive goods and services associated with attending New York’s splashy and vulgar Met Gala, for which she was gifted two tickets valued at $70,000.
Among those expenses was a couture dress featuring the slogan “Tax the Rich” in blood-red letters.
The OCE referred Ocasio-Cortez for investigation by the House Ethics Committee, but hardly anyone has called for her resignation or expulsion from Congress.
“Luxury for me, but not for thee” is a powerful theme uniting today’s top Democrats, who appear to have a special animus against yachts, at least when they are not on them.
Ocasio-Cortez has at different times mocked Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla.,, and tech billionaire Jeff Bezos for owning yachts when they advocated positions she opposed.
Last August, Democratic operatives criticized Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., for celebrating his 50thwedding anniversary on a yacht in Italy.
In 2019, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., derided Washington football team owner Dan Snyder for his yacht, tweeting “I’m pretty sure he can pay my new #UltraMillionaireTax to help the millions of yacht-less Americans.”
In 2015, then-New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced leftist opposition for approving a state budget that included a partial sales tax exemption for yacht purchases.
When Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., ran in 2014, Democrats lambasted his state legislative record for “giving tax breaks to yacht and jet owners.”
In 2011, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., declared that “owners of yachts and jets don’t need special tax breaks.”
After the war in Ukraine broke out last year, Biden’s Justice Department launched an international campaign to seize Russian-owned yachts, without regard for due process or constitutional protections against unwarranted search and seizure.
No such wrath was waxed on former president Barack Obama, however, when he and Michelle Obama were spotted alongside leftist celebrities Bruce Springsteen, Oprah Winfrey, and Tom Hanks enjoying Democratic media mogul David Geffen’s yacht in French Polynesia in 2017.
Hypocrisy that most media ignore is a small price to pay if it could delegitimize the Supreme Court, now with a Republican-appointed majority of six to three.
At 74, Thomas is its oldest and most senior member, and the easiest target for leftists intent on clearing a seat for another Biden-appointed progressive, even if Thomas did nothing wrong.
Democrats remain chagrined by the Senate’s failure to hold a vote on Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination in 2016 and are outraged that Trump successfully nominated the next three justices. Some have called for the court to be “packed” beyond its traditional nine members to overcome its conservative majority.
Thomas is also a Black conservative who rejects the pernicious racialist politics prevalent in the Democratic Party, voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, espouses an originalist view of the Constitution, and survived sexual harassment allegations when he was appointed.
Ironically, it was then-Sen. Joe Biden who presided over Thomas’s confirmation hearing and suffered now-suppressed progressive ire by declining to call witnesses who might have corroborated accusations against Thomas.
Targeting Thomas for yachting with his friend cannot succeed on the merits, but, like Bragg’s ill-advised prosecution of Trump, observing legality is no longer a standard in the Democratic Party’s hysterical, envy-driven quest for power.
Paul du Quenoy is president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Georgetown University. Read more — Here.
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