March 7, 2011- Why shouldn't Clarence Thomas be impeached?

If Mr. Justice Thomas takes allegations he committed perjury for 13 years seriously enough to defend himself before a recent Federalist Society dinner, then they're certainly serious enough to warrant formal investigation of said allegations.

And if these allegations are based on written evidence, as they apparently are — among said evidence is, reportedly, 13 years of sworn financial disclosure forms claiming Mrs. Thomas earned no income, when in fact she earned plenty, much directly related to cases before him — then it looks to non-lawyer me like something that can only be decided in a trial — which is what an impeachment is.

Mr. Justice Thomas reportedly excused himself by claiming he simply "…inadvertently omitted (to report the income) due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions." But when made before him, he's consistently dismissed that argument out of hand, so let's hear no more of that.

Common Cause, which uncovered this, took a more cautious bead on the issue when it wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder and suggested that Justices Thomas and Scalia should have recused themselves from certain cases before the Supreme Court — especially, in Mr. Justice Thomas' case, Citizens United v. FEC.

And considering the likelihood that convicting Mr. Justice Thomas of perjury would at a minimum throw 13 years of Supreme Court decisions into question, I suppose recommending mere recusal is a prudent, even achievable goal.

Even Professor Jonathan Turley of Georgetown Law School, who, in the weekend edition of The Los Angeles Times, makes the case against Mr. Justice Thomas much better than I can, likewise makes no call for impeaching Mr. Justice Thomas.

But not being a Washington-based politician, I feel no such compunction.

After all: If Bill Clinton could be impeached for getting trapped into lying about what went on between him and poor Ms. Lewinsky, a Supreme Court Justice can certainly be impeached for what appears to be voluntarily lying under oath for 13 years.

I guess I can understand why Democratic politicians wouldn't want to pick up this particular dirty stick; touching it would get everybody dirty, and the Democrats' obvious strategy for lo these many years has been to try to appear the reasonable party.



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