February 9, 2011- Seventy-four House Democrats have signed a letter to Clarence Thomas asking the Supreme Court justice to recuse himself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of the national health care overhaul, arguing that his wife's work as a lobbyist creates "the appearance of a conflict of interest."
The move is the latest indication that the court battle over the health-care law's constitutionality — which is expected to be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court — has already become a political tit-for-tat.
"The appearance of a conflict of interest merits recusal under federal law," the House Democrats wrote. "From what we have already seen, the line between your impartiality and you and your wife's financial stake in the overturn of health-care reform is blurred. Your spouse is advertising herself as a lobbyist who has 'experience and connections' and appeals to clients who want a particular decision — they want to overturn health-care reform. Moreover, your failure to disclose Ginny Thomas's receipt of $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent opponent of health-care reform, between 2003 and 2007 has raised great concern."
The House Democrats' letter follows a suggestion made by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) last week that Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan should recuse herself from any consideration of the health care law's constitutionality because of her previous position as U.S. Solicitor General.
"I think that Kagan, who was the solicitor general at the time this was all done, probably should recuse herself, which means it might not be resolved by the Supreme Court," Hatch told Fox News last week. "That means the lower court decision will be the acting law."