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Can Justice Thomas Rule Fairly On Health Care Law Before Supreme Court?

September 30, 2011

How does a Supreme Court Justice over-look $700,000? 

Maybe Justice Thomas was  too involved with his obsession with pornographyto pay attention to the money that needed to be reported.  Regardless of the reason for the ethical lapse Thomas now finds himself, there is plenty of concern raised over his ability to fairly judge the health care law that will soon be before the court.

Led by New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, the legislators yesterday sent a letter to Administrative Office of U.S. Court, claiming that Justice Thomas improperly failed to disclose nearly $700,000 that his wife, Virginia Thomas, allegedly earned from the conservative Heritage Foundation from 2003 to 2007. (Click here to see the letter.)

“To believe that Justice Thomas didn’t know how to fill out a basic disclosure form is absurd,” Slaughter said in a press release accompanying the letter, which called for a Department of Justice investigation into the matter. “To not be able to do so is suspicious, and according to law, requires further investigation.”

Slaughter further noted in the press release: “The Heritage Foundation was a prominent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, an issue that is expected to be considered by the Supreme Court in the near future.”

Questions have come up before about whether Ginni Thomas’s work for conservative causes could raise conflicts of interest for her husband. (Click here for an earlier LB post on the topic.)

The Law Blog has sought comment from the Supreme Court and from the Heritage Foundation.

Here’s a CBS News report about yesterday’s request for an investigation into Thomas.

CBS notes that Justice Elena Kagan also has faced questions about whether she could impartially rule on challenges to the Affordable Care Act. Last summer, during her confirmation hearings, Republican senators raised concerns that she would be biased in reviewing the law given that she served as President Obama’s Solicitor General when the overhaul was crafted, CBS reports.

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