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[Please forgive me if this has been addressed already.  I didn't see a reference to it in any of the diaries.]

So what's a few pennies among friends, right?  Not much, except when those paltry pennies add up to over $686,500 over the period 2003 to 2007.  And when that sum is what was allegedly paid to the wife of a Supreme Court Justice.  And when that Justice, answering the question on the disclosure form about spousal income derived from other than investments, wrote "none".  

This was reported by the Los Angeles Times on Friday, and picked up by Charles Johnson on his "Little Green Footballs" blog.

And wouldn't you just know that the Justice at issue is Justice Clarence Thomas, Mr. Strict Construction himself.  His wife Virgnia appears to have earned $686,000 over 4-5 years, for an average of $137,000 - $272,000 per year.  

I haven't seen any response from the Thomas family yet.  It should be interesting.  If the Times is correct, I guess using a strict construction of the question, "spousal non-investment income" must not mean "spousal non-investment income".

Essentially, as the LA Times reported, Virginia Thomas worked for the Heritage Foundation, which paid her a pretty nice 6-figure salary.  SCOTUS judges are required by law to disclose their sources of income.  It's important to note that there is no evidence or other reason to believe this income went unreported on the IRS forms.  Regardless of the IRS, however, the disclosure law allows the country to assess how the judges may be impacted in their rulings, and whether or not they recuse themselves from cases where they directly interested.

I'm no attorney, so others may evaluate better than I the possible impact (assuming, of course, that the LA Times' reporting is accurate).  Some questions that spring to mind:

1- Did Virginia Thomas' employer, Heritage Foundation, have any cases before the Supreme Court during this period?  Did the Heritage Foundation file any amicus briefs in cases filed by others?

2-  Did Clarence Thomas have any other responses on his disclosure form that should be examined?

3- Lastly, two questions for Mr. Strict Constructionist: Tell us, please, Justice Thomas, answering "none" was a violation of the law.  What do you call something that's against the law?  And since you're always on about strictly following the words of the Constitution, How do you think the Founding Fathers would have defined the word "ethical"?

EDITED TO ADD:  This diary made the rec list through the good graces of Julie Guilden.  Thanks, Julie, for helping this topic get noticed.  You're the best!

Originally posted to hayden on Sun Jan 23, 2011 at 03:32 PM PST.

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