June 24, 2011

Anthony Weiner's Attacks on Thomas

“Ganging Up on Justices Thomas, Scalia, and Alito,” an article by CFJ’s Curt Levey in the June issue of the American Spectator, is now available online here. The article explores the motivations behind this year’s “aggressive—and, at times, personal—attack on the … impartiality and ethics of Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and … Samuel Alito.” (quoting Politico)

Levey concludes that the allegations are an attempt to intimidate the conservative Justices, delegitimize “conservative” decisions, and combat the arguments for Justice Kagan’s recusal in the ObamaCare cases. The attacks are further motivated by both heightened paranoia about the “vast right-wing conspiracy” and rage at the Citizens United campaign finance decision, the 2010 election results, and the loss of a liberal Supreme Court majority. The article notes that “even liberal legal experts have brushed off the complaints as hollow.” (quoting Politico)

The online publication of the article comes on the heels of the New York Times’ renewal of its attacks on the conservative Justices’ ethics, this time in a June 18 story questioning Clarence Thomas’s ties to real estate developer Harlan Crow. As has been typical of all the allegations, the story is heavy on insinuation but does nothing to change the conclusion that the complaints are hollow.

Another development since Levey’s Spectator article first appeared is the Anthony Weiner scandal. More than anyone else, Weiner has been the face of these ethics attacks, and his fall further undermines their legitimacy. As Levey’s article noted,
“A group of 74 House Democrats led by the always theatrical Anthony Weiner (D-NY) … [wrote] an accusatory letter asking [Justice Thomas] to ‘recuse yourself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of [Obamacare].’ … Rep. Weiner was even more brazen in explaining the letter he and colleagues wrote to Thomas: ‘If Justice Thomas does not recuse himself and the Court rules [against] the law, I will be making the point that this is not a credible decision.’ In other words, the plan is to try intimidation, and if that fails to produce a Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare, the backup plan is to delegitimize the Court’s ruling in the eyes of the public.”
Before Weiner admitted his guilt at a June 6 news conference, several of his defenders alleged that
“Congressman Anthony Weiner was stalked, set up, smeared … this conservative media mafia has done a hit on a U.S. Congressman, and it’s one carefully timed to protect corrupt Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from scrutiny” – Daily Kos blogger Daily Wind
Such is the nature of the recent ethics attacks on the conservative Justices – lots of fury and little evidence. It seems that the attacks are as much theater as Congressman’s Weiner’s proclamations of his innocence.