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Am I the only one who noticed that ex-Nixon lawyer John Dean's article "John Dean Knows How to Get Rid of Clarence Thomas" concludes thus: "In short, nothing is going to happen to Clarence Thomas."  Talk about false advertising!

But Dean left out of consideration one strategy, the same one that five years ago he argued against pursuing with Bush and Cheney, whom many of us at that time wanted removed from office.  The strategy is the one now being advanced by RootsAction: Impeach Clarence Thomas.

The impeachable offenses have been well catalogued by Think Progress without a solution proposed.  ProtectOurElections has proposed the same solution that John Dean suggests before dismissing it as hopeless: ask the Department of Justice, the one that just dismissed charges in 99 cases of murder-by-torture, to "investigate" Thomas.  Investigate.  As if the facts aren't public already in sufficient quantity.  William Rivers Pitt at TruthOut has had the sense to use a different I word: impeachment.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has, in fact, and beyond dispute, been very busy accepting gifts from organizations that file briefs before the court, attending political fundraisers, ruling on suits in which he or his wife have a conflict of interest, and hiding income. No wonder he hasn't had time to ask a question from the bench in five years!

Of course, Thomas should be asked to resign!  Of course the FBI should be pushed to "investigate" the case.  Of course Eric Holder and the man who holds his leash, Barack Obama, should be pressured to investigate and prosecute.  But the information is known.  What's needed is purely the will.  To seriously take up the matter is to put Thomas in prison.  It's all or nothing.  Where will we find the political pressure to make it happen, or to make Thomas resign in hopes of avoiding it?  How can we create a climate in which Obama cannot comfortably refuse to act, or in which other means of accountability begin to look likely, or in which the level of shame and opprobrium actually become too great for someone like Clarence Thomas to continue to endure?

Here are three names to keep in mind:

1. Thomas Porteous. This federal judge was impeached in 2010 for charges of corruption and was removed from office.

2. Samuel Kent. This federal judge was impeached in 2009 for charges of sexual assault and abuse of power. He resigned.

And, most importantly:

3. Alberto Gonzales. This U.S. Attorney General resigned after Congressman Jay Inslee introduced -- and dozens of his colleagues agreed to cosponsor --  the following bill:

"Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary shall investigate fully whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to impeach Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors."

There's that "investigate" word again.  But there's another important word here: "impeach."  

Congressman Chris Murphy has already written a letter to his colleagues asking them to sign on to a request to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith.  Credo has depicted the request as one for an investigation of Thomas, but the letter actually asks for consideration of a bill that would apply the same ethical standards used in other federal courts to the Supreme Court.  The letter mentions Thomas and two other judges as examples of why this is needed.

By all means, that hearing should be held and that bill be passed.  But there exists a mechanism for enforcing ethical standards.  It might require merely the same steps that were taken with Alberto Gonzales.  No Republican House Committee is eager to hold hearings on Thomas, but what about a Democratic Senate Committee, prompted by a House move toward impeachment?  Such a move could consist of 100 congress members, mostly Democrats, cosponsoring this:

"Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary shall investigate fully whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to impeach Clarence Thomas, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors."

You can ask your representative to cosponsor that through RootsAction.  I encourage you to ask all your friends to do the same.

As John Nichols documented so well in his book "The Genius of Impeachment," many successful impeachments have succeeded without conviction or even impeachment, and some without even the introduction of articles of impeachment.  Alberto Gonzales was merely threatened with impeachment.  There were powerful people he could have squealed on who probably urged him to leave, but that is likely to be true for Thomas as well.  Gonzales was unable to find work in any law firm following his resignation.  By contrast, the Congressman who proposed consideration of his impeachment is now a serious candidate for Governor of Washington.

Clarence Thomas richly deserves to follow in Alberto Gonzales' footsteps.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Dean ends the piece (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MikeTheLiberal, importer, AnnieR

    saying it will never happen.

    If only.

    •  John Dean is a savy player who is one of (4+ / 0-)

      the few who weathered Watergate and come out as a go-to guy, some suspect by being a covert agent in the WH to entrap Nixon.  So I always assume Dean has his own reasons for comments.

      I hate the very idea of things being "off the table".  I hated it when Nancy Pelosi said it, and I hate it more every time I hear it from a politician who is not willing to rock the corporate-money boat.  

      Thomas should never have been nominated or confirmed.  Anita Hill tried to tell us what a nut he was, she was trashed by the powerbrokers who wanted this useful idiot on the court.  

      Thomas, Scalia, Alito and Roberts, himself, are corporate hacks.  If we are to survive this court, someone has to move against them.  They are all young enough(save Scalia) to destroy this country with their myopic decisions.  We can hardly recognize this country today after a couple years of their decisions.

    •  He could be daring people to impeach anyway n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  should happen but won't (0+ / 0-)

    it's tough, many will say it's racist to suggest such a thing. Obama defends war criminals and torturers so going after a guy for corruption where no one died is unlikely.

  •  We have a saying in my work office - "ask for what (5+ / 0-)

    you want, you just might get it".

    I agree with David, and support that resolution.  I will contact my Senators (Cantwell and Murphy), and my Representative (McDermott), and ask them to support this as well.

    I'll also be voting for Inslee for Governor.

    Enough with the hand-wringing, IMO.

  •  Well Conviction is Impossible, and the Man Who (0+ / 0-)

    stood up to one high tech lynching will surely stand up to the next.

    My suspicion is that a reason some of these earlier individuals resigned is that there may have been criminal activity that would have been uncovered by impeachment investigation.

    We know going in that a Republican can't be convicted on impeachment, and since the days of Gonzales we've established that high crimes aren't investigated any more, and we know that Thomas couldn't possibly defer to his opposition, so I don't see the existence of pressure or legal action that could get him out.

    Gotta side with Dean on this.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 09:33:49 AM PDT

  •  You need 2/3 of the vote in the senate and that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, erush1345, elmo

    will never happen.   And you need the house to vote on the articles of impeachment which at the moment is not going to happen.  You are wasting time and energy for nothing on this.

  •  What did they say about Nixon?...... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Yes we can!

    Stonewall was a RIOT!

    by ExStr8 on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 09:53:00 AM PDT

  •  I wonder if his income tax returns (0+ / 0-)

    reflect reality.  

    Democrats - We represent America!

    by phonegery on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 09:55:13 AM PDT

  •  This (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is why I'm so pissed at Weiner, the MSM, and many people here on Kos who threw him under the bus.  By getting rid of the guy who was muckraking Thomas, it sent a chilling message to all others.  Everybody in congress who is male cruises porn.  How do I know that?  I am male.  Maybe everybody in congress doesn't get drunk and sext strangers, but that doesn't matter.  There is enough damning evidence on every guy's hard drive to shut them up.  

    And the NSA can find out who what where and when.  

    That is why it won't happen.  And probably why the last administration didn't get impeached or prosecuted.

    Brokn finger. Harder to pick ,\my nose. Typing is about the same.

    by Nada Lemming on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:03:41 AM PDT

    •  I don't believe Weiner was muckraking Thomas (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nada Lemming

      I believe his assertions and/or conjectures were leveled with a certain amount of authority and zeal.  The guy wouldn't simply grab the mike and start ranting lies or half-truths in our toxic political environment - too much at stake.  And I believe that's why he got taken down...

      That being said I agree that most on The Hill probably do partake of porn in its myriad forms. Anyone with an "R" behind their names is immune from any accountability, investigation or pressure to step down for the most part.  That totally sucks of course.

      I wish Thomas could be taken down. He's scum of the lowest variety. He thoroughly disgusted me when his hearings (and the Anita Hill scandal) were on the Teevee, and he still disgusts me.


      When everybody talkin' all at once no one can hear the wise one speak, So just be still and silence will provide the wisdom that you seek - by Tori del Allen

      by Dumas EagerSeton on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:41:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  David - I don't think the DoJ could investigate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't think that Justice Thomas has been shown to have committed any crimes, so there is no probable cause for the DoJ to investigate. Experts are unclear about exactly what formal ethics restrictions apply to the SCOTUS. The Obama administration would never go on a fishing expedition of a Supreme Court Justice. The partisan character of that effort would shut down Washington.  The hiding income issue is a straw man. We have no knowledge that the Thomas' failed to report Mrs. Thomas' income to the IRS.  Someone at the IRS could check that, and probably has, but the Obama administration could not without more evidence.  

    In an impeachment process the House is the investigating body and that will not happen with the Republicans in charge.   The Judiciary Committee of the Senate wants no part of this effort to bring charges against Justice Thomas. The Dems are working hard to have the President's nominees approved by the committe and sent to the Senate floor for approval. They know there are not 67 votes for impeachment, it's likely that today there are not even 20 votes for impeachment. With that being the case, and the Constitutional authority for investigaitions in the House, the Senate will not touch Justice Thomas. It may make sense to bring this issue up again if the Dems retake the House in 2012, but until then any investigations will have to be done outside of Congress.  

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:07:34 AM PDT

    •  Lying on financial disclosure form? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't know what the rules are (for SCOTUS) on that -- surely there must be some penalty for lying on the financial disclosure forms year after year by checking the "no" box for whether his wife was employed. That's the tip of the iceberg, but is more tangible than "hobnobs with people who are also funding litigation before the court even though they're not actually the parties."

      •  rugbymom - there is no penalty (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        First, what Justice Thomas did in filing incorrect forms for 20 years was wrong, I don't condone it, and have no idea why he would do it. However, if we are looking at this one issue as a basis for some action against Justice Thomas I don't think we will have any success. There are three issues. It is unclear that Justices of the Supreme Court have to file these forms at all. Second, making mistakes on these forms is surprisingly common. To date all the other federal court judges who have filed incorrect forms have been requested to file a corrected form and no disciplinary action has ever been taken. (There are some judges who have been accused and convicted of serious crimes and the false statements in their forms have been an issue) Third, the purpose of the form is for counsel appearing before the Court to know if there are conflicts and, if so, to file a motion with the Court that the Judge recuse on that case. All of the members of the Court, the staff, and the Supreme Court Bar, knew that Ginny Thomas worked at the Heritage Foundation and for other right wing groups. These facts were commonly reported in the MSM. The employers of Mrs. Thomas were not a PARTY to any cases before the Court while she was an employee. Justice Thomas was asked to file correct forms, and he did. It is hard to see how a federal case could be made from this given the history of how other judges have been treated, and the lack of any harm done to the judicial process.  

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:37:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  So you're basically confirming that there (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is no way to get rid of Thomas. Senate will do nothing until House actually takes up impeachment. Which it won't as you described.

  •  Motions to recuse? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I would think that the information already out in public would lead to an increasing number of parties filing motions for recusal, anytime the conservative think-tanks that he associates with and is financially intertwined with are involved in the case. You don't necessarily know who is funding the parties, but certainly any case where the think-tank files an amicus brief or publicly announces their involvement. Then you can issue a press release about the Motion for Recusal. It will be denied, of course, but it adds to the pressure.

  •  Let's be clear (0+ / 0-)

    The stated reason for possibly investigating or impeach Thomas is corruption.  The real reason is that we don't like how he decides cases.  

    As former Minority Leader Gerald Ford said, confirming this very point one of the times he tried to impeach Justice Douglas, "An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives says it is."  It's all politics.  Let's not kid ourselves or claim high ground we don't have.

    "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

    by Loge on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 01:18:19 PM PDT

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