Supremely Compromised

Published: January 27, 2023

By Jim Lichtman
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Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Let’s cut to the chase: Americans expect a higher standard from the US Supreme Court than the other two branches of government . . .  much higher and we’re not getting it.

Let’s start with Justice Alito.

“A former leader of the anti-abortion movement wrote to the chief justice to report an alleged earlier breach, of a 2014 contraception decision, that he said stemmed from a donor’s meal with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and his wife. The court never responded.”

Then there’s the leak.

When press reports revealed that the high court’s majority of conservatives were on the verge of a decision to effectively kill Roe v. Wade—the law that protects a woman’s right to choose— had been leaked, outrage from the 9 in black. An immediate investigation was ordered to ferret out the culprit.

“The investigation was an attempt by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.,” The New York Times reported, “to right the institution and its image after a grievous breach and slide in public trust. Instead, it may have lowered confidence inside the court and out.”

When a 20-page report was released, no leaker was found.

“In a May 2022 speech,” the Times writes, “Justice Clarence Thomas described how the leak had changed the atmosphere at the court. ‘You begin to look over your shoulder,’ he said. ‘It’s like kind of an infidelity. You can explain it, but you can’t undo it.’”

Infidelity, that’s an interesting comparison. I would ask Justice Thomas if infidelity between the public and the court would apply when the wife of a justice actively participated in an attempt to overturn the vote of the 2020 election in Arizona?

I would ask why there wasn’t similar outrage inside the court at such actions. I would ask if that justice should make a public announcement that his wife acted wrongly and that nothing close to those kinds of actions would happen for the remainder of his tenure.

While the court remains outraged over the leak, as it should be, they clearly demonstrate a double standard when it comes to unethical actions taken by justices and family members.

To refresh everyone’s memory, Thomas’s wife, “Ginni” sent messages to multiple Arizona republican lawmakers asking them to overturn the results of the 2020 election on her belief that fraud existed.

No evidence of fraud. Not a hint.

Thomas’s name appeared on a Nov. 9 email to Rusty Bowers, the fiercely Republican, and former Speaker of the House in Arizona.

“Article II of the United States Constitution,” the email said, “gives you an awesome responsibility: to choose our state’s Electors . . . [P]lease take action to ensure that a clean slate of Electors is chosen.”

Bowers held firm as he told 60 Minutes journalist Scott Pelley when he was pushed by Trump loyalist and attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to overturn the results of 2020.

Bowers pushed back.

“Mr. Giuliani, you said you were going to bring me some proof. Names, et cetera of all of these people. I asked you for the proof. You said you’d bring it. You’re not bringing it. You’re asking me to break my oath and make up something to pull electors and replace electors, which has never been done in the history of the United States. And I’m gonna try that on my state?”

A leak from inside the Supreme Court: Outrage from the court.

Ginni Thomas’s actions: Silence.

The Supreme Court is supposed to be the last bastion of integrity among the three branches. After Alito, Thomas, and Leak incidents, is it any wonder many believe the court has been compromised?


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