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EDITORIAL: Politicians in glass houses

Democratic ethics attack on Clarence Thomas backfires

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2011

House Democrats thought they had caught Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas pulling a fast one. Last month, a group of 20 congressmen blasted the conservative jurist for making a simple mistake on his ethics disclosure forms. Summoning the highest possible level of feigned outrage, the members signed a letter demanding an investigation involving "possible criminal or civil legal sanctions." They're going to regret their hyperbole.

Justice Thomas' lapse came to light in January when he filed an amendment to his annual financial disclosure forms noting that he had failed to mention his wife's employment at the Heritage Foundation over several years. This prompted the 20 Democrats to call for action from the official ethics watchdog for the courts. "Due to the simplicity of the disclosure requirements, along with Justice Thomas' high level of legal training and experience, it is reasonable to infer that his failure to disclose his wife's income for two decades was willful, and the Judicial Conference has a non-discretionary duty to refer this case to the Department of Justice," they wrote.

Now, it has never been a secret that Mr. Thomas' outspoken wife, Ginni, used to be a senior fellow at Heritage. The think tank's website still carries several articles that clearly state her affiliation at the time. Even the laziest of researchers could have noted this by browsing her profile on Wikipedia. It's hard to consider failing to acknowledge widely known information as a "willful" - let alone criminal - act.

In fact, at least 14 of the 20 Democrats attacking Justice Thomas had to file amendments to their own ethics documents because of various errors or omissions. For example, Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. had to correct his filings from 2004 through 2006 because, he explained in January 2009, "due to a clerical oversight my previous financial disclosure statements inadvertently omitted information about my wife's outside income." So did Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who failed to mention his wife's income from 2006 through 2010. Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr. also made a mistake in listing his wife's assets in his 2009 disclosure.

Monica Conyers, the Detroit congressman's wife, is serving a 37-month sentence for taking bribes in exchange for her votes on Motown's city council.

Democrats aren't actually interested in the accuracy of these forms. They've always had it out for Justice Thomas because they cannot stand the idea of a black man who is both an intellectual and a conservative. They're hoping vague allegations of "income hiding" will smear his reputation. They're also slyly suggesting that Justice Thomas isn't smart enough to fill out a form properly. Never mind that the very Democrats who are casting stones don't have the "high level of legal training" to fill them out properly, either.

Justice Thomas' written opinions and dissents are among the most fiercely defensive of liberty and the original intent of the Founding Fathers. That's what liberals hate the most, and they're willing to sink low to silence him.

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