Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rep Weiner & 73 House Members Call on Thomas to Recuse Himself from Health Care Reform Case

Impartiality Questioned after Revelations of Financial Gain and Disclosure Lapses

Following reports that the spouse of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a lobbyist who has gained financially from efforts to overturn health care reform, a conflict of interest the associate justice failed to disclose, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D – Queens and Brooklyn) and 73 of his House colleagues sent a letter to Justice Thomas calling on him to recuse himself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Full text of the letter below:

The Honorable Justice Clarence Thomas
United States Supreme Court Building
1 First Street Northeast
Washington D.C., DC 20543

Dear Justice Thomas:

As an Associate Justice, you are entrusted with the responsibility to exercise the highest degree of discretion and impartiality when deciding a case. As Members of Congress, we were surprised by recent revelations of your financial ties to leading organizations dedicated to lobbying against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We write today to respectfully ask that you maintain the integrity of this court and recuse yourself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of this act.

The appearance of a conflict of interest merits recusal under federal law. From what we have already seen, the line between your impartiality and you and your wife's financial stake in the overturn of healthcare reform is blurred. Your spouse is advertising herself as a lobbyist who has “experience and connections” and appeals to clients who want a particular decision - they want to overturn health care reform. Moreover, your failure to disclose Ginny Thomas’s receipt of $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent opponent of healthcare reform, between 2003 and 2007 has raised great concern.

This is not the first case where your impartiality was in question. As Common Cause points out, you “participated in secretive political strategy sessions, perhaps while the case was pending, with corporate leaders whose political aims were advanced by the [5-4] decision” on the Citizens United case. Your spouse also received an undisclosed salary paid for by undisclosed donors as CEO of Liberty Central, a 501(c)(4) organization that stood to benefit from the decision and played an active role in the 2010 elections.

Given these facts, there is a strong conflict between the Thomas household’s financial gain through your spouse’s activities and your role as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. We urge you to recuse yourself from this case. If the US Supreme Court's decision is to be viewed as legitimate by the American people, this is the only correct path.

We appreciate your thoughtful consideration of this request.

Member of Congress

Current co-signers include:

Reps. Al Green, EB Johnson, Wm. Lacy Clay, Russ Carnahan, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Karen Bass, Richard E. Neal, Peter Welch, Judy Chu, John A. Yarmuth, Betty Sutton, Ed Perlmutter, Gerald E. Connolly, Dennis Kucinich, Greg Meeks, Allyson Y. Schwartz, Lloyd Doggett, Gwen Moore, Jared Polis, Maxine Waters, Donald M. Payne, Bobby L. Rush, Steve Cohen, Joe Crowley, Eliot L. Engel, David N. Cicilline, Susan Davis, Albio Sires, Michael F. Doyle, Louise McIntosh Slaughter, Jim McDermott, Nydia Velazquez, John Garamendi, Andre Carson, Michael E. Capuano, Shelley Berkley, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Tim Bishop, Barbara Lee, Joe Courtney, Rosa L. DeLauro, John Conyers, John Larson, George Miller, Leonard L. Boswell, Donna F. Edwards, Lois Capps, Xavier Becerra, Theodore E. Deutch, Steve Israel, William L. Owens, Laura Richardson, Yvette Clarke, Mazie K. Hirono, Gary Ackerman, Keith Ellison, Raul M. Grijalva, Chris Murphy, Lynn C. Woolsey, Peter A. DeFazio, Jesse Jackson Jr, Silvestre Reyes, Carolyn Maloney, Robert E. Andrews, Bill Pascrell Jr, Bob Filner, Paul Tonko, Marcia L. Fudge, Maurice Hinchey, Michael M. Honda, Anna G.Eshoo, Frank Pallone Jr, Fortney Pete Stark