Dems want Thomas to recuse himself.
February 11, 2011
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As chances grow that the Supreme Court will take up the constitutionality of the 2010 health care law, a political battle is brewing over whether some justices should recuse themselves from what is likely to be a high-profile case.
Seventy-four House Democrats, led by New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, sent a letter to Justice Clarence Thomas Wednesday calling on him to sit out deliberations on the Affordable Care Act because of his wife’s ties to a lobbying group that opposes the health care law.
“The appearance of a conflict of interest merits recusal under federal law,” the letter said. “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.” Read the story
This is a tough situation that escapes the regular Left/Right arguments. The Democrats are right, Justice Thomas should recuse himself. As a matter of ethics, if a judge’s family has a financial stake in the matter, they should recuse themselves.
The problem is, Justice Thomas is a Supreme Court Justice. He can’t be replaced. A regular judge is replaced by an (hopefully equally unbiased judge). The Supreme Court appointments are highly politically charged events. Removing Thomas removes a Conservative vote. That is the true reason for them sending the letter.
Lastly, because they are the final authority in the Judicial branch, they are owed a certain level of trust. It wasn’t wrong or corrupt for President Obama to lobby the olympics committee on behalf of Chicago. It’s not wrong for a conservative judge to rule on a highly partisan law, but he sure does look bad doing so.