Monday, March 15, 2010

Teabagging Thomas: Ginni, wife of Clarence, links to Tea Party "movement"


See, this is why Chief Justice Roberts's recent little hissy fit over being challenged by President Obama was so ridiculous. (Well, it's one of the reasons why. Basically, Roberts should grow a spine.)

According to Roberts, Obama shouldn't have criticized the Supreme Court -- or, rather, one of its decisions -- in his State of the Union address. Roberts found this "very troubling."

And yet, by his own actions (in speaking out the way he did), Roberts seems to approve of the chief justice of the United States criticizing the president of the United States publicly.

It would seem that the Supreme Court is so supreme, and the justices so spineless (or some of them, including Roberts), that it can dish out whatever it wants, even as it can't take any criticism in return. And what it dishes out is not judicial dispassion, detachment, and neutrality but ideology and a partisan agenda. We all know this, or should, and yet we cling to the myth of the non-partisanship of the Supreme Court. (Did Bush v. Gore tell us nothing?) Those of us who aren't on the right also know that the judicial activism of the right is far more of a nefarious reality than any such activism of the left. (They thought Sotomayor would make up the law? Hardly.) Would Roberts have openly criticized the man who appointed him, George W. Bush? Of course not. Because he's a Republican. Because they both are.

But it isn't just activism from the bench, it's direct political activism, or activism by a degree of separation. The L.A. Times reports:

As Virginia Thomas tells it in her soft-spoken, Midwestern cadence, the story of her involvement in the "tea party" movement is the tale of an average citizen in action.

"I am an ordinary citizen from Omaha, Neb., who just may have the chance to preserve liberty along with you and other people like you," she said at a recent panel discussion with tea party leaders in Washington. Thomas went on to count herself among those energized into action by President Obama's "hard-left agenda."

But Thomas is no ordinary activist.

She is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and she has launched a tea-party-linked group that could test the traditional notions of political impartiality for the court.

In January, Virginia Thomas created Liberty Central Inc., a nonprofit lobbying group whose website will organize activism around a set of conservative "core principles," she said.

*****

"I adore all the new citizen patriots who are rising up across this country," Thomas, who goes by Ginni, said on the panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "I have felt called to the front lines with you, with my fellow citizens, to preserve what made America great."

I suppose Ginni Thomas has every right to be politically active like this -- assuming that she acts ethically, and that her husband does. But let's not pretend that Justice Thomas isn't fully behind this, supportive of his wife's political aims, and let's not pretend that he and his fellow conservative justices aren't often motivated by similar partisan political priorities.

And, of course, there is at least the appearance of potential conflict of interest here. As Attaturk writes, "[i]f such conflicts involved, say Ginsburg or Stevens, it would be screamed about on Fox News 23:54/7. Glenn Beck would cry himself into a dehydration coma..." True. It's all rather troubling.

But what's also troubling is Ginni Thomas herself.

-- Does she honestly see herself as "an ordinary citizen"? If so, she's deeply delusional.

-- And does she honestly believe that Obama has pursued a "hard-left agenda"? How do bailing out Wall Street, upping the war in Afghanistan, and promoting a compromise market-oriented health-care reform package that closely resembles what Republicans previously supported, including as a counter to Hillarycare back in the '90s, and that has alienated many progressives, including some of his most ardent supporters, amount to anything "hard-left"?

Clarence has long been thought to be a light-weight on the Court, if not thoroughly unqualified to be a justice. While that may or may not be true, it would seem that in the Thomas household it is Teabagger Ginni who is the intellectually lighter of the two.

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