Saturday, June 18, 2011

NY Times: Clarence Thomas' Ethics Are in Question; Et Tu Clarence?

The New York Times website reports today (June 18, 2011) that a multimillion-dollar project to preserve a seafood cannery in Pin Point, Georgia highlights an unusual -- and ethically sensitive -- friendship between the Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas, and Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate magnate and a major contributor to conservative causes.

Moreover, the New York Times reports that since the two men met, Mr. Crow has done many favors for Justice Thomas and his wife, Virginia, thus adding fuel to a debate about Supreme Court ethics.

The Times also states that Mr. Crow's financing of the cannery museum -- his largest and previously unreported act of generosity -- raises the most serious questions yet about Justice Thomas' extrajudicial activities and the code of conduct.

Although the Supreme Court is not bound by the code, justices have said that they adhere to it.

Thomas was also the focus of an ethics investigation in 1991, after then-President George H.W. Bush nominated him as a justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. Anita Hill, a co-worker of Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at that time, accused Thomas of having made several unwelcome sexual comments to her while they were at work. Hill's accusations almost derailed Thomas' confirmation to the Supreme Court, as the U.S. Senate -- after a bitter debate -- confirmed his nomination to the high court by a very close 52 to 48 vote.

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