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All This Influence and Corruption Plus Hitler Memorabilia

Never Forget That Courts Are Political

​​​​​ This past week we were treated to the sordid details of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's ethical misconduct and blatant corruption. We found out that for 20 years he has been accepting gifts and vacations, sometimes up to half a million dollars in value, from billionaire Republican mega donor Harlan Crow. Despite claiming to prefer Walmart parking lots to beaches, Thomas routinely traveled on Crow’s private yacht and stayed at his luxurious camp in the Adirondacks. During these vacations Clarence Thomas would speak with a variety of Rich GOP mega donors. This amazing expose by ProPublica uncovered the misconduct despite the fact that Clarence Thomas has not disclosed these sorts of gifts since 2004, the last time that he was exposed by a journalist for this very behavior. Justice Thomas is no stranger to ethical violations: from credible allegations from Anita Hill of sexual misconduct by Thomas raised during his Senate confirmation hearings, to the decades of accepting personal gifts and favors we’ve just learned about, to his own wife's prominent role as a January 6 supporter, Thomas is a walking caricature of corruption and a stain on any judicial system pursuing justice. In a functioning democracy, with a strong rule of law Clarence Thomas would be quickly impeached and removed from his position, but of course we know that has little chance of occurring. Instead, he'll remain serving on the highest court of the land determining the rules we all play by with no checks on his unethical behavior, except perhaps a stern talking to from Chief Justice Roberts. As titillating and enraging as Clarence Thomas's individual corruption is, however, this past week reminded all of us of a very important fact. The Supreme Court is a deeply political body made up of flawed humans, not saints. Any claim of moral or ethical superiority, or of being “Above The Fray” of politics is nothing but a smoke screen to protect the reputation and power of the court and its justices. The SCOTUS justices like to pretend that the court and the judiciary are not like other branches of government, that they are some sort of priesthood divining and interpreting the “sacred law.” As every Supreme Court Justice will blithely claim during confirmation hearings, they are “just calling balls and strikes,” objectively looking at each case. This is obviously ridiculous. Even a casual analysis of both the Court's and individual justice’s decisions, show profound political and ideological lenses shaping each of the justices opinions as part of larger political projects. By itself, having an ideology isn’t bad for a Supreme Court justice, it’s a simple reality of being human. However, in recent years within the Republican party, the majority of the conservative justices have all been selected by the Heritage Foundation to push a specific, and highly unpopular, reactionary ideology. The American people do not want any of this. They don’t want corrupt judges being bribed, pampered and nurtured by the donor class. They want a one, not two-tiered justice system, they want a government, including the courts that looks out for the American people and recognizes the Constitution and its amendments as the radical, not reactionary, proposition that they were. Unfortunately, last week serves as a stark reminder that the same corrupting influence of money and donor power that infects our legislative and executive branches also has a tight grip around our judiciary. We cannot rely on the courts to stand as a check against the anti-democratic agenda of the donor class we cover each week. To bring back all three branches of government in line with the will of the people it will take not just political but economic power. So, join us each Tuesday in growing solidarity and don't shop on Tuesday! #DSOT #UPM

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