Perhaps you're familiar with Clarence Thomas, the Long-Dong-Silver-loving US Supreme Court Justice. With a new term recently beginning on the Court, he passed the five-year mark for not only saying nothing of value while hearing cases, but nothing at all.
Yes, you read that correctly -- while no US Supreme Court Justice in over two centuries has gone even a single term without speaking from the bench during arguments, Thomas has managed to do it for five in a row.
To quote Stephen Colbert, "the man is a rock... in that he could be replaced by a rock and I'm not sure anyone would notice."
Sadly, it shouldn't really come as much of a surprise that if someone were going to set this record, it would be Justice Thomas. He certainly never even approached being "the most qualified" person in the land to sit on the Supreme Court, as President George H.W. Bush, who nominated him to the High Court, said after offering his name.
I'm quite sure that Bush didn't even believe that himself, unless he was limiting the field of competition to Thomas, then-vice president Dan Quayle, and his namesake offspring. But if he was clearly unworthy then -- and he was -- he is now about as appropriate a judge as Newt Gingrich is a marriage counselor.
While he doesn't seem to even want to participate in his day job, Thomas certainly does engage in the kind of partisan politicking that is not only unseemly, but sets a terrible precedent in a democracy. And at least in theory, the judiciary is supposed to be impartial, and therefore above politics.
Yet, in only the past few weeks, a number of embarrassing episodes have not only turned this legal tracheotomy into a punch line for late night comics, but have quite honestly raised questions about whether any fully-functioning democracy would allow him to continue rendering judgments so important in deciding not only the law, but values of our society.
First, there was the fact that Thomas, whose wife has earned almost $700,000 for -- as far as I can tell -- being his wife, finds government disclosure forms too difficult to fill out that he accidentally put $0 where $700,000 was supposed to be under "spousal income."
That's right, for a guy who is supposed to decide how to interpret our Constitution, apparently reporting the bounty his wife pulled in through the right-wing welfare system of think tank stipends and Tea Party activism is somewhat more difficult than making jokes about body hair and coca cola to co-workers of a female persuasion. As this is a family news outlet, you're just going to have to go look up the rest yourself.
But wait, there's more! As reported over the past week, the good-government group Common Cause has caught ole Clarence in what those in the legal profession might call a "lie."
Thomas attended a meeting of wealthy corporate barons on the West Coast, not long before joining his fellow deluded, activist conservative judges in overturning roughly 100 years of settled law to claim that corporations should be able to buy and sell democracy on the free market, like equities or an Emmy.
And as such, these corporate "people" can spend pretty much whatever they want on electioneering, a wonderful little valentine to a republic that is supposed to be defined by "one person, one vote".
The problem, of course, is those wealthy conservatives with whom Thomas ate pigs-in-a-blanket and likely fantasized about replacing the social safety net with breakaway glass stood to directly benefit from these changes to our law, contained in the infamous Citizens United case.
So Thomas went ahead and lied about how much time he spent at that retreat held by the infamous Koch Brothers, the sugar daddies of the supposedly power-to-the-people Tea Party movement. While according to the The New York Times, "a court spokeswoman said Justice Thomas had made a 'brief drop-by' at the event in Palm Springs, California, in January 2008 and had given a talk," in that darn financial disclosure report that keeps getting him in trouble, Thomas reported that he was reimbursed by the right-wing Federalist Society for having spent "four days" at this very same event.
Four days, or a few hours? You say tomato. I say tomahto.
This is all on top of all the reasons he never should have made it to the Supreme Court in the first place, such as sexually harassing Anita Hill and apparently other young women who've come forward in the years since.
Then Senate Judiciary Chairman and current Vice President Joe Biden, as well as other Democrats who allowed this man to become a member of the Supreme Court should be supremely embarrassed to this day (as should every Republican, but I won't hold my breath on that).
Yet, how about addressing this mistake. Thomas has shown no moral compass, judicial ethics, intellectual rigor or understanding of his duties. For these reasons, Clarence Thomas should be impeached.
This was first published as a weekly column at Al Jazeera English
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