Mr. Roberts’ Dilemma

Published: December 22, 2023

By Jim Lichtman
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While much of the media discussion has surrounded the decision made by the Colorado Supreme Court, where the judges ruled that former president Donald Trump is barred from holding any public office because he engaged in insurrection, there’s another question that hasn’t been addressed:

Will Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recuse himself from any case brought before the Supreme Court involving Donald Trump?

Why should this matter?

In the 2020 presidential election, Thomas’s wife, Virginia, “pressed 29 Republican state lawmakers in Arizona — 27 more than previously known — to set aside Joe Biden’s popular vote victory and ‘choose’ presidential electors, according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.” In her testimony before the House January 6 committee, Thomas’s wife said she genuinely believed that the Arizona vote count had been corrupted to favor Biden.

Despite her belief, Thomas’s actions clearly pose a conflict of interest for her husband, who has already been embroiled in another ethics issue regarding a large number of travel and gifts he’s received from billionaire Harlan Crow. Thomas never reported the gifts from his benefactor on his yearly disclosure to the court.

Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith has asked the court to examine whether Trump can claim immunity from prosecution, as his lawyers argue, regarding his actions on January 6 because he was president.

The second case involves the Colorado decision. Trump’s lawyers have already begun challenging the decision, which the high court could potentially hear sooner rather than later.

“If Trump appeals,” CBS News reports, “but the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t issue a ruling until after January 4, Trump remains on Colorado’s primary ballot. But, if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Colorado State Supreme Court’s ruling, any votes for Trump wouldn’t count.”

These two conflicts of interest place Justice Thomas in the position to recuse himself. If Chief Justice Roberts does not intervene, the court’s credibility, already at an all-time low, will be stained for years to come.

The Supreme Court just announced that they will not take up the case regarding presidential immunity. “The court’s one-sentence order, from which there were no noted dissents, means a federal appeals court in Washington will be the first to review a district judge’s ruling earlier this month rejecting Trump’s claim of immunity,” The Washington Post reports.

While it appears that all nine justices had a word on the issue, Justice Thomas has proven unwilling to recuse himself from any case brought before the court regarding the former president.

Where is the justice in that, Mr. Chief Justice?

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