Clarence Thomas is a one-man wrecking crew.

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John Krull, publisher,

Well, that’s not precisely true.

His wife, far-right political activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, has given him a great deal of help in his campaign to demolish the reputation of the once-revered U.S. Supreme Court.

The latest sledgehammer blows the power couple delivered to the nation’s high bench have been revealed by the nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet ProPublica.

A few days ago, ProPublica published a meticulously reported story detailing 20 years of gift trips the justice and his wife had accepted, without declaring them, from a conservative billionaire who long has campaigned to move the entire judicial branch to the right.

Just one of the trips Thomas took on Republican megadonor Harlan Crow’s dime would have cost the justice more than $500,000 if he had paid for it himself.

But Thomas didn’t pay for it himself.

Nor did he disclose it.

He just took whatever goodies that were offered to him and said nothing.

This is not typical judicial conduct.

While I’ve never palled around with any Supreme Court justices, I’ve known a few judges in my time. Regardless of whether they’re considered liberal or conservative, they have one thing in common—a reverence for the law and the courts that interpret that law.

All the ones I have known could have made more money—much more money—practicing law. They chose to sit on the bench because they have a deep commitment to the notion that a free society cannot function if justice is not impartially administered.

For that reason, the judges I have known go to great lengths to avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest or that the legal system to which they were devoted could be compromised in any way.

One judge I knew wouldn’t even let me buy him a friendly cup of coffee once when we were shooting the breeze about baseball.

Such scruples clearly do not trouble Clarence Thomas.

If there is a freebie available for the taking, he will scoop it up.

Nor is that the only Grand Canyon-sized ethical breach with which Justice Thomas seems comfortable.

Rulings on two affirmative action cases are expected some time soon from the Supreme Court. One of the cases involves Harvard University.

One of Thomas’ bench mates, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, recused herself from the case because she once had served on Harvard’s board. Like most judges, she wanted to discourage the perception that her judgment was tainted in any way.

Thomas, though, has continued to rule on cases involving the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and the attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He’s done this even though a mountain of evidence has demonstrated his wife was involved up to her eyebrows in the efforts to illegally keep former President Donald Trump in the White House.

The notion that Thomas could be an impartial arbiter of anything political in nature, given his wife’s extreme activities, is beyond absurd.

But that’s the stand Thomas has taken.

So far, he’s gotten away with it because, by and large, Supreme Court justices have been left to police themselves. Unless they get caught accepting a direct quid-pro-quo payment for rendering a verdict or committing some equally egregious legal transgression, they have been free to chart their own ethical courses, even when their moral compasses are as badly warped as Clarence Thomas’s is.

Thanks to Thomas, though, that likely will and should change.

Lawmakers have sent Chief Justice John Roberts a message saying that he should establish rules of conduct for Supreme Court justices or Congress will have to. If Roberts is smart, he will take the opportunity to do so.

Doubtless, this may strike some justices and judges who have taken their duties to the bench and their ethical obligations seriously as an intrusion, a situation in which the worst among them establishes burdens the worthy also must bear.

That often is the way it is, as James Madison, the father of the Bill Rights, observed in “The Federalist.”

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”

Clearly, neither Clarence Thomas nor his wife is an angel.

That’s why controls on the justice’s conduct are necessary.

John Krull is director of Franklin College's Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. The views expressed are those of the author only and should not be attributed to Franklin College.

(1) comment


Today it has been revealed that President BIden’s family used 12 offshore accounts to hide business deals. If your principles are sincere; we look forward to a column today about this matter.

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