After the theory that Chief Justice Roberts’ vote to uphold ACA was caused by his epilepsy medication didn’t fly, the latest conservative narrative making the rounds (thanks to a “scoop” by CBS’s Jan Crawford) is that Roberts switched his vote, buckling to external political pressure, and then withstood a ferocious month-long campaign by Justice Kennedy to bring him back around.
Who knows what truth there is to this story (or who inside the Court leaked it), but I was particularly struck by a remarkable nugget in Crawford’s article which describes the conservative wing of the Court, in contrast to Chief Justice Roberts, as impervious to outside influences — or at least liberal ones. Thus, while Roberts “pays attention to media coverage,” the conservatives, “such as Justice Clarence Thomas, deliberately avoid news articles on the court when issues are pending (and avoid some publications altogether, such as The New York Times). They’ve explained that they don’t want to be influenced by outside opinion or feel pressure from outlets that are perceived as liberal.”
What the article left out are the right-wing influences on Justices Thomas, Scalia and Alito. As I’ve previously written, these three justices have attended, headlined and spoken at political fund-raising events for right wing organizations. In another piece, Activist Judges, I pointed out that Justice Alito attended a major fundraising event for the notorious right wing magazine American Spectator (notorious for smearing President Clinton with false stories as part of the “Arkansas Project,” an effort to get Clinton impeached), and that Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas have also attended secret political fundraisers.
And as stated here, Scalia and Thomas were featured guests at a retreat of wealthy Republicans and conservative leaders organized by Charles and David Koch, the brothers who finance right wing causes from the money they made from their energy conglomerate. One of the Koch brothers pet causes had long been ending financial regulations on elections. Indeed, according to Common Cause, they funded many of the groups who filed amicus briefs in the Citizens United case. What is so unseemly about the appearances of Thomas and Scalia at the Koch Industries-sponsored event is that it occurred while Citizens United was pending before the Court.
And then, of course, there is the influence of Justice Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas, a right-wing activist and powerful lobbyist, who worked to repeal the health care law. Thomas was employed by the Heritage Foundation, a right wing think tank, between 2003 and 2007, and then set up a political consulting business, Liberty Central, which is described as an advocate for “liberty-loving citizens” fighting against the left wing “tyranny” of President Obama and the Democrats.
Well, at least the conservative members of the Court are not influenced by the New York Times and other dreaded liberal media.
Fair and Unbalanced
Posted: Wednesday, 4 July 2012