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Today's Shady Clarence Thomas Behavior

ProPublica has set up residence in Clarence Thomas' closet, and the outlet just keeps finding skeletons. Their latest report, which dropped yesterday, reveals that while Thomas and his wife Ginni were raising his grandnephew Mark Martin, whom the justice described as being "like a son," billionaire benefactor Harlan Crow paid for the young man's tuition at an exclusive private school. Also, while Thomas included on his disclosure forms a "donation" of this sort made by another friend for Martin's benefit, the Justice somehow forgot to mention the payment from Crow.

This would appear, at first glance, to be a clear-cut example of bad (and possibly illegal) behavior. However, there are nuances that probably push it from "black and white" into a gray area. First, it was a single year's worth of tuition, and not an entire academic career's worth. Second, Crow apparently funds scholarships for promising students, and has intimated that Martin was covered on that basis. Third, and finally, "like a son" is not actually "a son."

It seems quite clear, at this point, that Thomas was (and presumably is) very good at finding these gray areas and taking full advantage. The ProPublica piece quotes numerous experts in government ethics, and they all describe Thomas' choices here as concerning, problematic, etc. But there is a big gap between engaging in problematic behavior and actually getting sanctioned for that behavior. This is double or triply true when one is a member of the Supreme Court, and thus a law unto one's self (and we mean that on multiple levels). So, we have to assume Thomas will skate on this, along with all the other stuff ProPublica has dug up.

Meanwhile, in response to ProPublica's reporting, the distinguished "journalists" at the Daily Wire have been playing a fun game of whataboutism, and have been trying to dig up unethical actions by liberal justices. Here's what Ben Shapiro & Co. have come up with:

The meager amount of dirt that the Daily Wire managed to uncover would seem to suggest that liberal justices are pretty good at conducting themselves appropriately. That said, we really don't know how big a problem it is that Sotomayor didn't recuse. And so the main lesson here, which is surely not the one that the Daily Wire intended, is that the Supreme Court needs a much clearer set of guidelines for what is, and is not, outside the rules. (Z)

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