SCOTUS: Nice Work if You Can Get It

I have some charts for you today. Let’s start with this one I snagged from Newsweek  —

Sorry the print is so small. But if you can read it, the column on the left lists Supreme Court justices going back twenty years. Some of them are retired and/or deceased. I understand this chart gives the number of gifts received by each justice and whether they were disclosed or undisclosed. That long bar at the top belongs to Clarence Thomas.

This chart shows us the value of those gifts.

The long bar at the bottom is Clarence Thomas, showing a total value of gifts received to be over $4 million. Of the current justices the second-place winner is Sam Alito, whose gifts totalled just over $170,000.

Newsweek says “The data was compiled using official disclosure reports as well as reporting from a number of media outlets which identified gifts received by justices between January 2004 and December 2023.” So that’s probably not all of it, just what could be teased out of available information.

This was compiled by a group called Fix the Court, and you can get more details from them about what they figured into this data. A lot of the gifts were things like plaques, medals, and “gift baskets” (fruit and cheese?) that aren’t necessarily a big deal. There are also advance and royalty payments for books written by justices, which doesn’t bother me either as long as they are disclosed. Seems to me profits from books aren’t gifts but income. But Thomas, obviously, is in a class by himself.

As soon as Democrats have a majority in the House and Senate …  It still takes a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove a judge from office, but we can dream.

In other news. This is what happened when the Federalist published a hit piece on Dolly Parton because she doesn’t hate gay people.

Elon Musk has threatened to leave Tesla if his $56 billion pay package is not approved. Considering that Tesla sales have been lagging way behind other EVs, I’m not sure what value Musk has been adding to the company that’s worth $56 billion. Seems to me Tesla would be better off breaking from him. But this will be up to the shakeholders, who will vote on June 15. If it were up to me I’d cut him down to $56 with a promise of some gift baskets if sales pick up.

ProPublica revisits the biggest political crime in American history, even though nobody is exactly sure what it is.

8 thoughts on “SCOTUS: Nice Work if You Can Get It

  1. It would have been nice for Newsweek to have published a companion graph of the number of words of opinion written by each justice in the majority, the minority, and combined.  

    In this one I suspect Judge Thomas would finish dead last.  

    This is, of course, a national and institutional embarrassment of colossal proportions.  We should commission a statue of a Justice with a pocket full of Bemjamins to be placed at the entrance to the Supreme Court to commemorate this dubious accomplishment.     

  2. "That long bar at the top belongs to Clarence Thomas."

    I'd like to see Justice Kagan or Sotomayor or both take a well publicized trip to every liberal hotspot in Europe on George Soro's private Jet. Have a huge motorcade, invite the press to film the departure from DC. Maybe they could both bring a huge entourage. Have the Jet emblazoned with the USSC liberal world tour 2024. Paint a huge fucking pride flag on the side, black lives matter logos! All we do on our side is complain about how crooked the GQP'er on the court are and then get outraged when Chief Justice Roberts sits on his hands. Well I say play the same corrupt game time ten and see where it goes, what is there to lose, the court has lost all credibility anyway. Let it Rip!

  3. I've heard that what Thomas cares about is money. These charts and the fat-ride motorhome and luxury trips are perhaps evidence for that conclusion. I've also heard that if he starts feeling too much heat in his current job, he might just up and quit – he can make more $ elsewhere with less grief.

    The Pro Publica story that really shocked me is how Trump and others have bought off witnesses to his J6 crimes. I think it broke within the last week. Harry Litman said most of these kinds of crimes are hard to prove, and it's an example of Trump going right up to the line, but not crossing it.

    • In the Mother Jones article earlier this year that broke the story about Clarence Thomas' corruption, he was quoted just a few years after joining the court complaining that the money he was making as a SC justice didn't afford him the wealthy lifestyle comparable to wingnuts in private legal practice he felt he deserved.  He could have, at that point, left the court for private practice or descend into the vast wingnut welfare legal conspiracy network and made millions.  But apparently being on the court to screw over his own people was something that meant just as much, if not more to him and benefactors like Crow who knew he had in Thomas a pliable, willing lackey who would carry out their wishes.  Thomas for years sat under Scalia, not saying a word, always voting the "right way."  We are being willfully naive in pretending the millions in "gifts" provided Thomas over the years didn't have an impact on his decisions.  

      Given the makeup of congress there's not much they can do to get Thomas removed from the court.  But democrats need to do a lot more to highlight the corrupt nature of this court and their decisions.  


  4. How far can you go before there are consequences? Menedez is a Congressional example of corruption that went too far. The DOJ dropped the hammer. Who drops the hammer on the USSC? Potentially, Congress. I do not expect an impeachment would succeed but packing the court could. Add even two more justices while keeping the Senate and WH, two more are gonna die or retire soon. (Thomas and Alito)

    However, Democrats in Congress would have to pull off two radical changes, both quite constitutional. First, ditch the filibuster in the Senate. Second, pass a law in the House and Senate to expand the size of the USSC. (I have my doubts that democrats will hold onto the Senate in 2024 but the map is favorable in 2026.)

    It will take a lot to provoke Democrats in Congress to play rough. If the USSC exhibits a completely partisan disregard for the law, that could do it. Giving Trump cover in the election by freezing the DC trial stinks to hell and back. If the USSC intervenes to prevent incarceration in NY (a distinct possibility) that will further demonstrate that the court has lost any claim to impartiality. If the USSC intervenes for Trump after the election but can't quite bring off the coup, THAT may be the final straw. But the abuses of the court may be their undoing – there's a remedy within the reach of Congress if they will use it.

  5. Going OT! I ran across a well-written article by a legal expert on the substance of Trump's conviction. I know the GOP is full of sheep dip, but this explains the reason their claims are bogus. Worth filing for referance.

    On the same topic, Bragg offered to reschedule a hearing with the House AFTER Trump gets sentenced. He made it clear that interfering with the sentencing process, if that is their goal, is improper and he ain't gonna be there for that circus. However, if there's a legitimate legislative purpose to their inquiry, he'd be happy to explain. 

    All of which goes to the panic the GOP is in. (I think 'panic' is not an exaggeration.) Democrats will have four months to amplify two words, "convicted felon."  Trump won't have even the slightest chance of a reversal before the election, (My opinion.) 

    We will have two presidential debates that give Biden the opportunity to list all the civil and criminal convictions for the audience. Biden can mention the former aides who are NOW in prison for defying to rule of law for Trump. Damn, the tools are there for Biden to show that there's a crucial difference between the lawful exercise of political power and the criminal attempt to use political power for personal gain.

    The maximum financial penalty Merchan can lay on Trump is pocket change. What’s worse, Merchan can not lay a jail sentence on Trump that is so intrusive that it will impact Trump's campaigning. (Entirely my opinion.) But I'd love for the judge to lay a 10-day immediate sentence on Trump, with the remainder deferred until after the election when he would report for the remainder of his sentence. (Or the judge might impose the ten days strictly for violations of the gag order that have happened since his conviction.) The key issue is making Trump SUBJECT to the judicial system very publicly. I think this will affect the illusion of invincibility with low-info voters in a big way.


  6. I'd taken some glee in the thought that Trump might blow off his probation officer meeting, but apparently, his attorney demanded he do a Zoom. The judge is allowing his attorney to participate, which isn't standard:

    One of the reasons for this, I'm sure, is to allow a defendant to show remorse, or acceptance of responsibility. One other article I saw said it's not directly harmful for him to say "I'm not guilty, I'm appealing" – I suppose that's necessary, akin to the 5th Amendment – but he'd better avoid things that attack the prosecutor, judge, jury, venue, etc.. If he says he was only found guilty on a made up prosecution, conflicted judge, crazy Manhattan jury, etc., he might well screw himself.

    I think that's why the judge is allowing him to have counsel present – also, it's cheap insurance against a crazy probation officer report that occurred without counsel present.

    I'm also having a moment of legal history curiosity. I am not suggesting Judge Merchan should throw the book at Trump – nor am I suggesting he *shouldn't!* – but I wonder what historical precedent there is for "you are a criminal, and society needs to be protected from you; as such, I'm sentencing you to four years imprisonment, since no other authority is willing to commence said protection of society before the upcoming election. Bailiff, please speak to the agent of the Secret Service in charge with Trump's protective detail, and arrange for them to take him into custody."

    That is: is there historical precedent to make the statement: "Since the federal courts have relinquished authority over you, and since you're dangerous, I'm locking you *way* the hell up, because some court has to do so… and if the feds won't, that forces my hand!"

    It's kind of like how the Republicans view self defense, see? "I saw a man who might have had a gun, so I got pants-pissingly scared, and was forced to defend myself."

    That's a coward's answer, by the way; fear never forces you to defend yourself. That's why we have a virtue known as "bravery" or "courage". Republicans really do want America to be a nation of gun-bearing cowards, ready to shoot at a moment's notice.

    Anyway, still, by Republican standards, it seems like the judge should be able to say "I saw a lawless man, who might have a chance at the presidency, so I got reasonably worried about those consequences, and was forced to lock him up."


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