Justice Thomas Amends Disclosure Forms To Reveal Wife’s Income

With surprisingly little coverage from the media, Justice Clarence Thomas has amended his financial disclosure after Common Cause exposed his failure to report his wife’s income for many years — including her payments from conservative organizations.

Thomas corrected financial disclosures for the past 13 years that confirmed the allegations of Common Cause that Virginia Thomas worked for Michigan’s Hillsdale College, the Heritage Foundation and the Republican leadership in the House.

He did not reveal the amount of money that she received from these sources.

As noted earlier, this employment would have been viewed as directly relevant (and controversial) during Thomas’ consideration of the Citizens United case.

For many, the incident will be cited as evidence of how toothless these rules have become. There is little deterrent for a justice who fails to disclose required information for 13 years — including information that would have likely been used as a possible basis for a recusal motion. It takes Common Cause to launch a major campaign to get compliance with the requirements.

What will be fascinating is the next case to come before Thomas of a criminal appeal in a failure to disclose case or tax case. There was nothing particularly complex about this reporting form. While criminal defense attorneys often argue that such omissions do not warrant prosecution, Thomas is viewed as fairly hostile toward such defendants coming before the Court. I was just counsel in the case of a judge who was removed from the bench by the United States Senate on articles of impeachment that included his failure to report income in a bankruptcy filing.

Common Cause notes that Thomas’ explanation that he had a 13-year “misunderstanding of the filing instructions” to be implausible.

Here is the changed form: Thomas- FD amendments

Source: New York Times

Jonathan Turley

47 thoughts on “Justice Thomas Amends Disclosure Forms To Reveal Wife’s Income”

  1. BIL,

    His color has nothing to do with his bad actions and everything to do with his lack of character.

    I’m not sure that came off like you meant it to. You must have meant that “His bad actions has nothing to do with his color, and everything to do with his lack of character.”

  2. There’s a huge difference between saying an inept SCJ who criminally lied about his wife’s politically biased income that should have forced his recusal on key cases should be impeached and saying he should be impeached simply because he is black.

    His color has nothing to do with his bad actions and everything to do with his lack of character.

    Saying he should be impeached simply because he’s black is as crazy as saying, oh, I don’t know, that God hates fags or thank god for dead soldiers.

  3. Please let us pray for those that are being racially in the motivation behind the decision to besmirch this kind hearted man. You know not what heaven has in store for you.

    I am yours in Christ.


  4. I completely and totally lost all faith in the Supreme Court when it appointed George Bush President. Whatever sense I had that the Court at least tried to be fair and impartial was lost. They are bunch of political hacks,

  5. Brian:

    I’m going to substitute one word in your last statement,tell me what you think.

    “Methinks the problem is not with people, it is with the structure of society, which has become** corrupt** beyond human comprehension.”

  6. As I find it utterly ludicrous that Justice Thomas would ever have sought to act in ways that resulted in his not disclosing information for which disclosure is required, I find it totally believable that he misunderstood the filing instructions for 13 years, and perhaps more.

    The instructions people like me are supposed to follow are, for me, often impossible to understand. Having gone through my family taxes, I have sometimes filed for the automatic extension to see if anything shows up in tax cases which illuminate better what choice, in an undecidable situation, I may most wisely make.

    If I have any doubt whatsoever, I never take a deduction as a business expense. Sometimes, years later, I find a tax case which clarified that an expense not deducted probably was deductible.

    If a Supreme Court Justice is unable to comply with the law, what chance do I have, regardless of my resolute conscientious intent to not violate any law?

    Methinks the problem is not with people, it is with the structure of society, which has become complex beyond human comprehension.

  7. I don’t see a correlation between a Scotus and us. Please do not denigrate the profession with that particular comparison. It is not like we watch porn. We have too much to do to make ends meet.

  8. Thomas is just going to claim it was pubic hair laced Diet Coke that made him do it.

    As to Scalia?

    “The justice gave a three-factor test for overruling its own cases: the precedent must be wrong, never widely accepted, and unmanageable under legal standards, Mr. Nadler said.”

    Uh . . . sorry “Justice” Scalia, but Roe v. Wade is correct, widely accepted and perfectly manageable under legal standards that recognize the rights of women to self-determination in their health care.

    But there is a case that does meet your lil’ test there, sport.

    Citizens United v. FEC

    It’s wrong Constitutionally, it’s widely considered a blatant endorsement of fascism and unmanageable under legal standards that recognize that real people are and should always be superior to a constructed legal fiction like a corporation – like the Constitution that starts off with “We the People” and not “We the Corporate Campaign Graft Peddlers”.

    Scalia is such a vile douche bag.

  9. Marnie: “Thomas and Scalia are tarnishing the reputation and standing or the Supreme Court and of its decisions.
    At the very least Thomas should be censured, if there is any branch of the government hat has the power to do that.

    Thomas has been caught in an obvious, ongoing lie that actually facilitated an even greater breech of ethics. Had he disclosed his wife’s income his ethical duty to recuse himself from some cases may have been apparent. His one lie enabled another. This guy is rotten to the core and actually always has been. His tenure as head of the EEOC was a study in politics over justice.


    Scalia gave his talk to the freshman Republicans on the Constitution today and it seems to me like he’s throwing red meat to the right with one of his comments. Is he chumming for a case? I think he is. He just told them how he would likely decide in a case on some significance. I see this as a signal to the right:

    “Few Lawmakers Show Up for Scalia Seminar on Constitution”

    “… Justice Scalia said stare decisis “is important, but it can’t be controlling,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.). The justice gave a three-factor test for overruling its own cases: the precedent must be wrong, never widely accepted, and unmanageable under legal standards, Mr. Nadler said.

    A of a case that meets those conditions, Justice Scalia said, was Roe v. Wade, the 1973 opinion upholding abortion rights, according to Mr. Nadler.”

    [emphasis mine, if it works]


  10. It’s almost like Justice Thomas is counting on the fact that the people currently in charge of starting The Impeachment process like his rulings. Maybe I’m just being cynical.

  11. rafflaw,

    Certainly, but even if they concluded it was intentional and egregious, the worst they could do on their own would be a unilateral resolution condemning the Justice’s failure to disclose, and that would still need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster. You’re right that they could still investigate, though.

  12. James M., I agree that it is not likely that the House will investigate, but can’t the Senate also investigate under the Judiciary committee?

  13. Rachel Maddow reported last night that Thomas had been reporting his wife’s income, but stopped doing so in 1996. This isn’t a case where he had been making the same mistake from day one, and no one ever corrected him. It seems to belie the idea that he misunderstood the form. As such, I think a Congressional investigation is warranted. Good luck getting the House to do so, however.

  14. From Washington Monthly (1/23/2011)
    Political Animal by Stephen Benen

    I’m trying to imagine what the response would be if a similar situation arose with a center-left justice. Imagine if, say, Justice Breyer’s wife considered Republican officials dangerous radicals, and began collecting six-figure checks from secret donors in order to wage a “war against tyranny.” Then, on his financial disclosure forms, Breyer failed to report his wife’s income altogether, despite legal requirements.

  15. I forgot one thing.
    Blouise, in light of Justice Thomas’ poor memory, maybe the IRS should audit his returns to see if his wife’s income was included there or did they just fill in “none” again?

  16. I am a little late this morning, but Nal got it right. Justice Thomas didn’t forget or ommit the information. How do you forget more than a half of million dollars of income and the many fund raisers that he attended for her employer? He should be impeached along with Scalia and Roberts and his buddy, Alito.
    I wish Roberts would join his fellow liars and not attend the SOTU tonight. Just seeing him there makes my blood boil.

  17. Busted again … poor Thomas really has problems with the women in his life.

    The man successfully hid the income from the Court for over a decade … this may not be a crime but Thomas has demonstrated excellent criminal instincts … as eniobob quoted Emerson … I’d keep on eye on the silverware if Thomas is coming to dinner.

  18. FYI:

    Roberts to Lead Delegation of Six Supreme Court Justices at Obama Address
    By Greg Stohr – Jan 25, 2011 11:11 AM

    Chief Justice John Roberts plans to lead a delegation of six justices at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated.

    Roberts had previously questioned whether justices should continue attending the annual event, likening it to a “political pep rally.” He sat passively last year as Obama criticized a just-issued campaign finance ruling and drew a standing ovation from congressional Democrats.


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