Letter: Justices Blind to Conflicts of Interest

To the Editor:

The Supreme Court is close to ruling on McCullen v. Coakley, the Massachusetts case involving buffer zones outside abortion clinics. And two justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, have refused to recuse themselves from the decision. It is expected that this case will follow traditional liberal-conservative lines with a 5-4 ruling likely.

Why should Scalia recuse himself? Because his wife, Maureen, a crisis pregnancy counselor, is associate director of Hope, a Virginia crisis pregnancy center. She is following her beliefs and should be commended for it, but at what cost to her husband’s impartiality in this case?

Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni, recently discussed “the tyrant in the White House” in an interview with pro-life activist Lila Rose, now available on YouTube. Her previous work with Liberty Consulting, where she was paid to lobby against the Affordable Care Act, resulted in an amended tax return by Justice Thomas due to his previously omitting her income.

Justices Scalia and Thomas and their wives have every right to support the causes they believe in, but it can be argued that by failing to recuse themselves, the justices are violating the U.S. Judicial Code of Conduct, especially Canon 2: “A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities”; and Canon 5: “A judge should refrain from political activity”.

These judges appear blind to their own conflicts of interest when conducting the people’s business, and it raises serious doubts about their impartiality. On the other hand, maybe they just don’t talk to their wives.

Don McCabe