The words "EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW" are famously chiseled above the main portico of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. But is one of the Justices seated in that building, with a lifetime appointment, now receiving special treatment under the law instead?
Evidence is mounting that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas violated federal law by failing to report his wife's annual salary of more than $120,000 per year from conservative political organizations by checking "NONE" on the box for "Non-Investment Income" for his wife Virginia on judicial Financial Disclosure Reports for the last 20 years.
According to the "self-initiated amendment" letters [PDF] signed by Thomas as dated Friday, January 21, 2011, and stamped as "RECEIVED" by the Judicial Conference of the U.S. Committee on Financial Disclosure on a Saturday, January 22, 2011, the Justice failed to reveal such sources of spousal income even on his original nomination disclosure forms during his contentious 1991 confirmation hearings.
One of the amendments hastily filed last week by Thomas states that he "inadvertently omitted" spousal income from as far back as 1989 "due to a misunderstanding of filing instructions." Though it has also been reported that he did report other spousal income on some disclosure reports up until 1996.
Virginia Thomas' income from The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, totaling $686,589 from 2003 to 2007 according to Common Cause, was omitted from the forms entirely, as was her Heritage Foundation employment from 1998 to 2003 and other sources of "non-investment income" from as early as 1989.
When reached by phone for comment on Friday, two different officials at the Judicial Conference were particularly hostile in response to questions from The BRAD BLOG in regard to what appeared to be special treatment afforded the Supreme Court Justice, allowing him to deliver the amendment letters for twenty years of inaccurate financial disclosure forms on a Saturday when the federal government office is not usually open to the public. The swift processing of Thomas' documents, carried out as the news of his false filings was about to break in the media, allowed subsequent news reports to downplay the issue as having already been handled, old news.
Moreover, Thomas' 'inadvertent omissions' appear to be in violation of U.S. federal law, in contradiction to suggestions from the Los Angeles Times' original reporting on this matter last weekend. That report, breaking the story publicly, quoted a judicial ethics expert from Northwestern University School of Law as asserting that Thomas' failure to report his wife's income was "not a crime of any sort."
It would appear that the law professor was wrong.
Closer examination of the original disclosure forms that Thomas filed and signed year after year, quite directly suggests crimes were committed, though none of the mainstream corporate media reports on this issue, to our knowledge, have bothered to focus on that point. According to the statute clearly printed on the disclosure reports filed by Thomas, just below his signature on each, the Supreme Court Justice could be held accountable for his omissions by penalties under the U.S. Code including as much as a $50,000 fine and up to one year imprisonment, or both, for each violation of the federal law. Even stricter penalties are also a possibility --- at least if one believes that even U.S. Supreme Court Justices are subject to the Rule of Law...