March 2, 2011- Perhaps you're familiar with Clarence Thomas, the Long-Dong-Silver-loving US Supreme Court Justice. With a new term recently beginning on The Court, he passed the five-year mark for not only saying nothing of value while hearing cases, but nothing at all.
Yes, you read that correctly–while no US Supreme Court Justice in over two centuries has gone even a single term without speaking from the bench during arguments, Thomas has managed to do it for five in a row.
To quote Stephen Colbert, "the man is a rock…in that he could be replaced by a rock and I'm not sure anyone would notice."
Sadly, it shouldn't really come as much of a surprise that if someone were going to set this record, it would be Justice Thomas. He certainly never even approached being "the most qualified" person in the land to sit on the Supreme Court, as President George H.W. Bush, who nominated him to the High Court, said after offering his name.
I'm quite sure that Bush didn't even believe that himself, unless he was limiting the field of competition to Thomas, then-vice president Dan Quayle, and his namesake offspring. But if he was clearly unworthy then–and he was–he is now about as appropriate a judge as Newt Gingrich is a marriage counselor.
While he doesn't seem to even want to participate in his day job, Thomas certainly does engage in the kind of partisan politicking that is not only unseemly, but sets a terrible precedent in a democracy. And at least in theory, the judiciary is supposed to be impartial, and therefore above politics.
Yet, in only the past few weeks, a number of embarrassing episodes have not only turned this legal tracheotomy into a punch line for late night comics, but have quite honestly raised questions about whether any fully-functioning democracy would allow him to continue rendering judgments so important in deciding not only the law, but values of our society.
First, there was the fact that Thomas, whose wife has earned almost $700,000 for–as far as I can tell–being his wife, finds government disclosure forms so difficult to fill out that he accidentally put $0 where $700,000 was supposed to be under "spousal income."
That's right, for a guy who is supposed to decide how to interpret our Constitution, apparently reporting the bounty his wife pulled in through the right-wing welfare system of think tank stipends and Tea Party activism is somewhat more difficult than making jokes about body hair and coca cola to co-workers of a female persuasion. As this is a family news outlet, you're just going to have to go look up the rest yourself.
But wait, there's more! As reported over the past week, the good-government group Common Cause has caught ole Clarence in what those in the legal profession might call a "lie."
Thomas attended a meeting of wealthy corporate barons on the West Coast, not long before joining his fellow deluded, activist conservative judges in overturning roughly 100 years of settled law to claim that corporations should be able to buy and sell democracy on the free market, like equities or an Emmy.