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AOC and Democrats Have Nothing on Clarence Thomas

AOC. Image Credit: CBS News Screengrab.

Most of us have lost count of the attempts to take down Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is hitting the cable news shows to demand a Thomas impeachment. It’s becoming an annual tradition, given AOC made the same demands last year at this time over an entirely different matter. 

In 2022, she wanted to target Thomas over stuff his wife had said. This time, it’s about a story first reported in the left-leaning Pro Publica about vacations Thomas took paid for by wealthy Republican donor Harlan Crow, which the outlet casts as a conflict of interest, without really explaining why.   

Pro Publica sensationalized the story with numerous nefarious adjectives, such as “luxury trips,” “superyacht” “exclusive California all-male retreat,” “opulent lodge” and the like. It was missing jumbo-sized exclamation marks, but it’s kind of hard to see why. 

There of course won’t be an impeachment anytime soon — not with Republicans controlling the House. 

But it’s not just AOC being performative again. Other Democratic lawmakers are getting in on the act.  

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia — two conspiracy theorists who are routinely parodies of themselves — led a letter calling for an investigation. 

The letter was signed onto by 10 other senators and 10 other House members, several who are not crackpots like Whitehouse and Johnson. 

Rep. Ted Lieu of California tweeted: “Is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas corrupt? I don’t know. But his secretive actions absolutely have the appearance of corruption. And he apparently violated the law. For the good of the country, he should resign.”

So, Lieu doesn’t know if Thomas is corrupt, says he “apparently” broke the law (a big leap from “I don’t know”) and then definitively says, “he should resign” for the country.

Importantly, Thomas didn’t break the law. 

The Wall Street Journal, the nation’s largest newspaper by circulation, dismisses Pro Publicas sensationalism and Democrats’ pearl-clutching. 

“But it seems clear that the Court’s rules at the time all of this happened did not require that gifts of personal hospitality be disclosed,” the newspaper says. “This includes the private plane trips. ProPublica fails to make clear to readers that the U.S. Judicial Conference recently changed its rules to require more disclosure. The new rules took effect last month.”

The Journal editorial continues: “Justice Thomas would have been obliged to disclose gifts that posed a conflict of interest involving cases that would be heard by the High Court. But there is no evidence that Mr. Crow has had any such business before the Court, and Mr. Crow says he has ‘never asked about a pending or lower court case.’”

It might seem a rather silly matter, but it isn’t. 

The left has long wanted to take down Thomas, mainly because he’s a Black originalist. The left has a cookie cutter determination of how every demographic is supposed to think, and if an individual thinks differently, he or she becomes a target. 

As the senior member of the current court, Thomas can assign who writes a majority opinion if Chief Justice John Roberts isn’t in the majority to assign. 

Republicans have a narrow House majority now. But Democrats, while in the House minority, pushed impeachment several times for President Donald Trump in 2017 and 2018. When the party won the majority, they impeached Trump in 2019

If Democrats take back the House in 2024, they might have a pretext in place to impeach. Of course, there’s no chance of a Senate conviction, but how often is that the point. The first and only impeachment of a Supreme Court Justice, that of Samuel Chase, was entirely political, and this would be, as well. 

Though one has to wonder how this would play politically. 

Liberal white Justice Stephen Breyer, now retired, similarly undertook luxury travel and reportedly failed to disclose a conflict of interest about a case he heard in 2015. 

So, what does it say to impeach the current longest-serving African American on the high court over a murky matter that almost certainly didn’t violate existing rules? It would be the highest of high-tech lynchings targeted at Thomas since his tumultuous confirmation hearing in 1991, when he first coined the term.

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Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaJL.

Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaJL.