January 24, 2011- Today, we asked the Justice Department to bring criminal charges against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for making false statements on his Financial Disclosure forms every year since 2003 by falsely swearing under criminal penalty that his wife Virginia had no income. Justice Thomas signed these forms under oath after certifying that the information in them was true and accurate.
Virginia Thomas worked at the Heritage Foundation from 2003 through 2007 and earned at least $120,000 each year according to the foundation’s Form 990s. She is now working for Liberty Central in a paid position according to its CEO Sarah Field. Last Friday, Common Cause wrote to the Administrative Office of the Courts about this matter as was reported by the Los Angeles Times on Saturday.
On a different, yet perhaps not too dissimilar a note, check out their call for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the use of secret money to influence elections. And remember, Common Cause has called into question whether Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia were ethically challenged by their involvement in the Citizens United ruling -- a ruling that Virginia Thomas may have benefited from:
Justice Thomas' wife also may have directly benefitted from her husband's vote in Citizens United. In the months leading up to the decision, Virginia Thomas founded conservative organization Liberty Central, which used $500,000 in undisclosed money to support Republican candidates in the 2010 midterm elections. In addition, for several years Thomas failed to list hundreds of thousands of dollars his wife earned from the conservative Heritage Foundation on Supreme Court financial disclosure forms.
Federal law requires a judge to "disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned," or when "his spouse…has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy…or any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding," says Common Cause. Neither Scalia nor Thomas did so in Citizens United.
In these kinds of cases, the law asks: Would a reasonable person who was aware of the situation question Scalia and Thomas's impartiality in the Citizens United case?
This looks like it certainly bears further investigation, and may help answer the question whether our Supreme Court Justices are above the law, or servants of it.