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5 Major Problems with ProPublica’s Latest ‘Ethics’ Hit Piece on Justice Clarence Thomas.

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5 Major Problems with ProPublica’s Latest ‘Ethics’ Hit Piece on Justice Clarence Thomas.

By Ken Klukowski

Lawyer who served in the White House and Justice Department.

There are five major problems with the latest so-called “ethics” attack on Justice Clarence Thomas, which this time is a hit piece from the leftwing ProPublica, attempting to kick Thomas off an upcoming Supreme Court case.

ProPublica has the vapors over the fact that Thomas flew on a private jet to a conference in Palm Springs in 2018 hosted by the network of Charles and David Koch, suggesting several ethics violations. ProPublica is legally wrong on every claim.

Two problems are that Supreme Court justices can speak at nonpartisan gatherings so long as there are no presentations to or from parties to a case currently pending before the Court, and the justice does not engage in fundraising.

First, Thomas did not present at the conference on any issues pending before the court, and no parties or lawyers on cases that were scheduled at the court made any presentations to him.

Second, although fundraising certainly takes place at such gatherings, so long as the justice does not ask for money, the fact that private citizens do so is not an ethics concern for a justice in attendance.

On various occasions when liberal justices like Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor have spoken at events, fundraising people huddle about how to promote the justice’s name to raise more money off the event. But Kagan and Sotomayor violate no ethics rules when this happens, because they are not the ones engaged in fundraising.

Third, it is utterly irrelevant that the Koch Network supports filing briefs in a case currently before the court that would change the scope of the federal government’s regulatory law. Justices frequently speak at events hosted by groups that take positions on pending matters, and the upcoming case is no different.

That case, Loper Bright, asks the court to overrule a 1984 case named Chevron, where the court held that courts should defer to agency bureaucrats about whether regulations are consistent with a law passed by Congress, if Congress’s law is either silent or ambiguous about the precise legal question at issue in the regulation.

Chevron should be overruled because it is egregiously wrong and has led to terrible results. It upends bedrock principles of the rule of law for judges who defer to the almost-all-powerful government about the government’s claims as to the government’s own power over citizens and companies. If anyone should get the benefit of the doubt, it should be the powerless ordinary citizen. But better yet, there should be no deference, and judges should just interpret the law and the regulations the same way they interpret any other law, regulation, or contract. (Full disclosure: I coauthored one of the many briefs in Loper Bright urging the Supreme Court to overrule Chevron.)

The left is panicking over Loper BrightChevron gives unelected bureaucrats enhanced power over the lives of private citizens on countless issues, from energy production, to transportation, to immigration, to transgenderism in schools, to firearms. It hobbles the ability of courts to require Congress to legislate clearly and for public policy to be made by officials accountable to the people. Overruling Chevron would restore transparency and good government, so the left is trying to disqualify conservative justices like Thomas from being able to vote on it.

Fourth, ProPublica’s authors are again ignoring judicial standards on personal hospitality. During the time in question (2018), if private individuals are a friend of a Supreme Court justice and offer the justice a seat on a private airplane, that form of personal hospitality is ethically allowed. Liberal justices like the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the retired Stephen Breyer frequently accepted such hospitality.

Fifth, even federal judges on lower courts that are already subject to the ethics code that Senate Democrats are trying to foist on the Supreme Court – a code that would be unconstitutional, because the Supreme Court is a coequal branch of government. In May 2005, Judge Ray Randolph – a highly respected judge on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit – conferred with ethics counsel at the Judicial Conference regarding a similar trip.

The judicial ethics expert at the Judicial Conference responded that the trip did not even need to be disclosed. So even if the Supreme Court could be forced into a subordinate role to Congress, like the federal appeals courts are, such trips would still be permitted.

The left’s latest desperate attempt to smear Thomas – this one from ProPublica – appears to be yet another swing and miss. And the fact that it focused so heavily on gaslighting the American people about Loper Bright shows that it is just the latest attempt at reverse court-packing to disqualify conservative justices in a brazen attempt to manipulate the outcome of a Supreme Court case on government power.

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Democrats Denied Election Results 150+ Times Before Trump Was Indicted for Challenging Election.

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Democrats Denied Election Results 150+ Times Before Trump Was Indicted for Challenging Election.

Although a Georgia grand jury indicted former President Donald Trump on Monday for challenging the 2020 election result, Democrats have refused to accept the results of elections they lost for decades.

As Breitbart News reported, more than 150 examples show Democrats denying election results, including President Joe Biden; two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY); Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA)Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX); and failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

In fact, every single Democrat president since 1977 has questioned the legitimacy of U.S. elections, according to the Republican National Committee. In both 2013 and 2016, Biden claimed that Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election. In May 2019, Biden said he “absolutely agrees” that Trump was an “illegitimate president.” Biden cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 midterms this year.

In 2006, then-DNC Chairman Howard Dean stated that he was “not confident that the [2004] election in Ohio was fairly decided.” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said it is “appropriate” to have a debate concerning the 2004 election and claimed that there were “legitimate concerns” regarding the “integrity” of U.S. elections. Then-Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) cast doubt on the security of electronic voting machines in the 2004 election, saying he was “worried” that some machines do not have a paper trail.

 

 

Democrats also cast doubt on the 2016 election. Seven House Democrats tried to object to the 2016 election electoral votes. After President Trump’s victory in 2016, 67 Democrats boycotted his inauguration, with some claiming Trump’s victory was not legitimate.

In September 2017, Hillary Clinton said she would not “rule out” questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election. In October 2020, she added that the 2016 presidential election was not conducted legitimately, saying, “We still don’t really know what happened.”

In addition, Democrats supported Stacey Abrams in her stolen election claims. Hillary Clinton said Stacey Abrams “would have won” Georgia’s gubernatorial race “if she had a fair election” and that Stacey Abrams “should be governor” but was “deprived of the votes [she] otherwise would have gotten.”

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said, “I think that Stacey Abrams’s election is being stolen from her.” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) contended that “if Stacey Abrams doesn’t win in Georgia, they stole it.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said, “the evidence seems to suggest” the race was stolen from Stacey Abrams.

“We won,” Abrams falsely claimed about the 2018 election. “I didn’t lose; we got the votes,” and “we were robbed of an election.” She also called it a “stolen election” multiple times and argued, “It was not a free and fair election.”

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