The legal standard for conflicts of interest is either a direct conflict with one of the parties or the appearance of a conflict whether one exists or not, so as not to impugn the integrity of the judicial system.

Justice Thomas went “large” on a private yacht vacation in 2019, in a trip with travel expenses of about $500K had he paid them himself but, ah, he didn’t. From Pro Publica:

In late June 2019, right after the U.S. Supreme Court released its final opinion of the term, Justice Clarence Thomas boarded a large private jet headed to Indonesia. He and his wife were going on vacation: nine days of island-hopping in a volcanic archipelago on a superyacht staffed by a coterie of attendants and a private chef.

If Thomas had chartered the plane and the 162-foot yacht himself, the total cost of the trip could have exceeded $500,000. Fortunately for him, that wasn’t necessary: He was on vacation with real estate magnate and Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, who owned the jet — and the yacht, too.

For more than two decades, Thomas has accepted luxury trips virtually every year from the Dallas businessman without disclosing them, documents and interviews show. A public servant who has a salary of $285,000, he has vacationed on Crow’s superyacht around the globe. He flies on Crow’s Bombardier Global 5000 jet.

And obviously, you see the problem. A Republican megadonor has no business paying the entire cost of a justice’s vacation. This would have been automatic impeachment just 25-30 years ago before the Koch brothers started inviting Alito and that Thomas guy to symposiums (Koch Konservative symposiums). That turned on the tap.

Other justices do cool things that are paid for, Justice Roberts, another conservative, has honestly and appropriately attended law symposiums around the world and has been paid a significant speaking feel (as well as travel and accommodations) but that is expected of a Justice and it has no indicia of any sort of conflict of interest, nor even an appearance. He teaches and being the SCOTUS Chief, he commands a high price.

Liberal Justices are not immune. They have attended events here in the United States (Akin to Amy Coney-Barrett) that in a perfect world, they wouldn’t attend. But as always, Thomas is at a completely different level. He must feel a bit like Trump in a sense. His wife can be texting the President’s Chief of Staff and Thomas says he doesn’t know a thing about it. And people walk around as if this is normal or real.

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  1. “This would have been automatic impeachment just 25-30 years ago before the Koch brothers started inviting Alito and that Thomas guy to symposiums (Koch Konservative symposiums).”

    I might’ve used another “K” word in that parenthetical.

    Maybe “Konference.” Seems a bit more appropriate. Especially when involving “Token” Thomas.

  2. It’s time to have a code of ethics for the Supreme Court AND term limits for them and all appointed judges. The public shouldn’t be saddled with partisan judges put in a lifetime position by whichever party is in power. Until that happens, and until we get rid of the electoral college and gerrymandering, we don’t have a true democracy. We just pretend we do.

    • All we have to do is insist on the same standards for SCOTUS judges as every other judge in the legal system. How hard can that be?

  3. Thomas is the judicial version of legendary & Hall of Fame Golfer Walter Hagan, one of the stars instrumental in establishing the modern game of golf. (Hey – it’s Masters Week) Flamboyant to the point of teetering on scandalous Hagan was supremely talented (as the number of his wins including Major Championships attest) and a born showman. He parlayed that into a lavish lifestyle despite the fact golfers who played as pros (Amateurs such as Bobby Jones regularly won often including Majors back in those days) got paid damned little even when they won. So they’d “hustle” on the side to make extra money to be able to travel to tournaments and pay for hotels. Hagan however always had fancy tailored clothes, a high-end car in which he’s show up like royalty and always seemed to be living or staying in mansions. He looked rich, but in truth was nothing of the sort. Hagan famously said he didn’t necessarily want to be a millionaire (today the term would be billionaire), he just wanted to live like one. And he did.

    Thomas doesn’t have enough legal talent to be Hagan’s “forecaddy” (usually some local, often a kid) who would stand down the fairway where tee shots were likely to stop rolling and note where the ball wound up, especially if it didn’t land in the fairway) but as your article indicates he doesn’t need to be fabulously rich. He (and his wife) run around with their hands out asking for filthy lucre from rich conservatives and eagerly accept it! It’s sickening and I imagine Roberts loses sleep over it. When he became Chief Justice he had such grand visions of history regarding him as a giant in Jurisprudence. One of the true greats who’d be talked about in history books both here and abroad for his wisdom, and positive influence on the law and justice.

    Well, that ship sailed! Mitch McConnel shoved Roberts off the fantail and put the engines in high gear with the stealing of a seat from President Obama. Then helping force out Kennedy and giving us Kavanaugh (if it hadn’t been Brewki Brett it would still have been someone just as awful) and then Barrett. Freed from the late Anton Scalia kicking his (and Scalia’s) ass to pull back if only just a little bit Thomas finally got free reign to let his freak flag of mediocrity fly, and like Trump take revenge on any and every person or group he’s angry at for not “recognizing his ‘greatness'” and singing his praises. Roberts lost control of the “Roberts Court” thanks to McConnell and Thomas knows it. Worse, while as you note his corruption goes back decades he no longer gives a fuck who knows it.

    No Justice has ever been impeached, much less convicted by the Senate and removed. Hell, even lower level federal judges have only rarely had to face that process. Literally less than a handful. Thomas and his wife know this. It’s a sickening thing to have to accept but like any other Justice Thomas is immune from consequences.

  4. I wonder if uncle Tom claimed those “donations” as income and actually paid taxes on them.
    Maybe uncle Tom and a few of his ASSociates should be audited by the irs like we regular folks….



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