Ethics Dunce Follow-up: Justice Thomas’s False Disclosures

From the New York Times:

“Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court acknowledged in filings released on Monday that he erred by not disclosing his wife’s past employment as required by federal law.
Justice Thomas said that in his annual financial disclosure statements over the last six years, the employment of his wife, Virginia Thomas, was “inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions. To rectify that situation, Justice Thomas filed seven pages of amended disclosures listing Mrs. Thomas’s employment in that time with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy group, and Hillsdale College in Michigan, for which she ran a constitutional law center in Washington.”

Thus Justice Thomas explains that he misread the question, though no misunderstanding would really explain the answer he gave, which was incorrect no matter how you look at it. A U.S. Supreme Court Justice will always be given the benefit of the doubt, and there are no ethics rules for him to be accused of violating: the Supreme Court justices are the only judges not subject to an ethics code.

This will end the issue, though Common Cause will continue to claim that Virginia Thomas’s activities create a conflict for Clarence Thomas, as if he isn’t conservative-leaning enough without any help from his wife. It is fascinating to me that the mainstream media largely ignored this story from the beginning, as if a Supreme Court Justice signing a financial disclosure form with an obvious omission is no big deal. It is a big deal, and it should matter, but for better or worse, the episode is over.

My verdict on Justice Thomas’s conduct stands, however.

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