And another law prof, Jonathan Turley, similarly opines on the Supreme Court Justice's lawlessness and 'dangerous conceit,' comparing him to Louis XIV
PLUS: VR files bar complaint against Thomas...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2011, 7:05am PT  

In Friday's Daily Beast, University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos called for the removal of Justice Clarence Thomas from the U.S. Supreme Court bench, as based on 20 years of scofflaw, criminal behavior in withholding disclosure information on his wife Virginia "Ginni" Thomas' hundreds of thousands of dollars of income from Rightwing organizations which also happened to benefit from Thomas' votes on a number of SCOTUS opinions, including last year's infamous Citizens United decision.

Several weeks ago, The BRAD BLOG was among the first to specifically detail Thomas' years of "knowing and willful" violations of the U.S. criminal code, even as the mainstream corporate media largely ignored or downplayed those violations of the Rule of Law in their limited coverage.

In his column, Campos speaks to those crimes specifically, echoing our own analysis that they "certainly constitute a misdemeanor, and quite probably a felony, under federal law."

The law professor gives voice to the same questions so many of us have been asking about all of this: "Why is it likely that no consequences will be visited on a Supreme Court justice who has committed a series of criminal offenses? Why is this story not a full-blown scandal? And why did Clarence Thomas do what he did?"

He then goes on to offer the troubling answer to some of those questions by explaining...

Thomas is very unlikely to be prosecuted or otherwise sanctioned for the simple reason that, in the United States in 2011, we have a two-tiered system of laws. ... despite living in a country with an unusually harsh criminal code that has created by far the biggest prison population in the world, our political and financial elites operate with something approaching complete impunity, safe in the knowledge that demands they be subjected to the same laws as everybody else will be ignored.

The entire column is a must-read, as it speaks to the heart of the outrage --- and the double-standards --- for which the privileged elite in this country, such as the Thomases, and their criminal brethren at, for example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are no longer subject to the same Rule of Law that you and I and the majority of U.S. citizens are subject to. As Campos observes:

This in turn helps explain why a Supreme Court justice's egregious flouting of the law doesn't rise to the level of a significant public scandal: Because nothing is going to happen to Thomas, the fact that he has spent the last several years repeatedly flipping off the very same legal system that has made him one of the most powerful people in the country doesn't qualify as significant news. In America today, after all, the president orders American citizens to be assassinated with no trial, investment bankers steal billions, prisoners are tortured in flagrant violation of both U.S. and international law, and the legal system simply looks the other way

In Sunday's Los Angeles Times, another law professor, Jonathan Turley of Georgetown University, also takes an op-ed run at Thomas' "dangerous conceit" in flaunting the Rule of Law, by comparing his speech to the Federalist Society last month, in which he "defended" himself against the well-documented charges by playing the victim and claiming that those who felt he should be subject to the same system of justice as the rest of us were, in fact, "undermining" the court itself while he and his wife Ginni were simply devoting their lives to "defending liberty."

Turley compares Thomas' defense to that of France's Louis XIV who "was infamous for his view that there was no distinction between himself and the state, allegedly proclaiming 'L'État, c'est moi' ('I am the State')."

"That notorious merging of personality with an institution was again on display in," his February speech to the Federalist Society, opines Turley:

It is unclear how Thomas will rule in the next case in which an individual is accused of a failure to disclose on tax or other government forms. Thomas is viewed as one of the least sympathetic justices to such defenses. Indeed, last year, he joined a decision in Jerman vs. Carlisle that rejected a defense from debt collectors that their violations were due to misunderstandings of the requirements of federal law and just "bona fide errors." In rejecting the claim that such errors were not intentional, the court reminded the defendants that "we have long recognized the common maxim, familiar to all minds, that ignorance of the law will not excuse any person, either civilly or criminally."

None of these issues, however, was addressed by Thomas in his speech to the Federalist Society. Instead, Thomas suggested that his critics were endangering freedom by undermining his authority and, by extension, the authority of the court. He insisted that his wife was being attacked because she believes in the same things he does and because they were "focused on defending liberty."

Thomas then nailed both himself and the court he believes he single-handedly represents to a cross, by launching into an absurd colloquy, charging: "You all are going to be, unfortunately, the recipients of the fallout from that — that there's going to be a day when you need these institutions to be credible and to be fully functioning to protect your liberties.... And that's long after I'm gone, and that could be either a short or a long time, but you're younger, and it's still going to be a necessity to protect the liberties that you enjoy now in this country."

To which Turley responds in kind:

That was Thomas' Louis XIV moment. Thomas appears to have finally merged his own personality with the institution itself. Thus, any criticism — even criticism that he is harming the court — is an attack on the institution. It is more than an embarrassing conceit; it can be a dangerous delusion for any justice.

We will go one farther than Turley here. It was not only Thomas' Louis XIV moment, it was his Mubarak moment --- his Gaddafi moment (without, of course, the direct torture and murder). Thomas nakedly demonstrated his likely, honestly held belief that he is, himself, both the embodiment of the Rule of Law itself, as well as above that very same Rule of Law. It smacks of the same sense of both abhorrent entitlement and clueless denial displayed by the autocratic dictators of the Middle East over the last several weeks as they similarly expressed their beliefs that their life-time "appointments" had held them exempt from any and all accountability.

They were proven wrong. And so, it is our hope, will Thomas.

As those who, just a few decades ago, might held Thomas accountable, such as the U.S. House or Senate Judiciary Committees, or the U.S. Dept. of Justice, have failed to even begin the process of doing so, it suggests that it may require nothing less than a round-the-clock Egyptian-like "velvet revolution" at the U.S. Supreme Court building itself, with the goal of forcing Thomas to step down, before any accountability may finally comes to pass.

As the corporate media continue their role in distracting the American people with "more important" matters, like a sitcom actor's self-indulgent rants, it remains unlikely that the citizenry will ever be informed enough to understand the outrage that they should feel which might compel them to take that stand against the thoroughally-undermined-by-Thomas-himself U.S. Supreme Court.

One last point worth noting here for now, since we haven't yet done so, as we've been on the road and unable to keep up with all as thoroughly as we usually like: Last week, in lieu of official action taken by any others, (co-founded by The BRAD BLOG) filed a bar complaint against Thomas in regard to these matters, in Missouri where he is a member, as part of VR's campaign.

Alternet's coverage here.
VR's press release here.
VR's actual bar complaint [PDF] here.

Your support of such campaigns is vital in order for we, the people, to even have a chance at reversing the long trend of these continuing outrages --- whether the majority of Americans are informed about them or not --- as the Big Government/Big Corporatist Elitists continue their unabated consolidation of authoritarian power and immunity from the very Rule of Law under which all the rest of us are expected to abide.

* * *

Recently related at The BRAD BLOG:

1/31/11: Clarence Thomas Appears to Have 'Knowingly and Willfully' Violated Rule of Law for Twenty Years

2/8/11: AlterNet: 'Why Does Clarence Thomas Get Away With Breaking the Law, as Wife Shills for Wealthy Right-Wingers?'

Share article...