Tsk, Tsk . . . Does Justice Clarence Thomas Need a Time Out?

by Vault Law Editors | January 25, 2011

  • My Vault

Justice Clarence Thomas has submitted amended financial disclosures to include information regarding his wife’s employment from the past six years, which Thomas claims had been “inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions.” The amended disclosures reflect that Virginia Lamp Thomas held positions at both The Heritage Foundation and Hillsdale College during this period.

Clarence & Virginia Thomas

A nonprofit advocacy organization, Common Cause, called Thomas out for this financial blunder on Friday, and Thomas filed the amendments yesterday. But Common Cause’s president Bob Edgar isn’t buying Thomas’ explanation, especially given his position as a Supreme Court Justice, who “is called upon daily to understand and interpret the most complicated legal issues of our day and makes decisions that affect millions.” According to Edgar, “[i]t is hard to see how he could have misunderstood the simple directions of a federal disclosure form. We find his excuse is implausible.”

And Common Cause isn’t satisfied with Thomas’ seven-page amendment either because it doesn’t include Liberty Central as one of Ms. Thomas’ employers. Liberty Central is a nonprofit organization founded by Virginia Thomas in 2009 which not only makes liberal use of underlining in its About Us section but also strives “to harness the power of citizen voices, inform everyday Americans with knowledge, and activate them to preserve liberty.”

So what’s the big deal? It’s just six years of employment that should have been disclosed under the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. Justices don’t even have to indicate how much their spouses have earned (but Common Cause spilled Virginia Thomas’ earnings at The Heritage Foundation from 2003-2007, which total over $685k). The federal law can be such a pain sometimes, huh?

Seriously, though, I’d like to think that a Supreme Court Justice wouldn’t intentionally ignore federal disclosure requirements, but I’d also like to think that a member of SCOTUS would understand the instructions on a federal filing form. I guess I’m out of luck.

New York Times source
Common Cause source
Liberty Central “About Us” section

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