"God save the United States and this honorable court!" And so begins another day at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The nine members of this honorable court are not elected by the people. Justices serve for life, as long as they serve with honor on the Honorable Court. Thus, the issue of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Justice Abe Fortas, a Lyndon Johnson appointee, was rightly forced from the bench when it was discovered that a $15,000 speaking fee paid by American University to Fortas was really a gift from a man who had business before the court. Fortas violated the honor of the court.
It appears the same may be true for Thomas. He has a relationship, including receipt of personal favors, with Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate magnate with financial ties to several cases before the Supreme Court. Thomas has consistently ruled in his friend's favor, including an 8-to-1 decision in which Thomas was the lone dissenting vote.
The lifetime tenure of members of the court protects them from the momentary political concerns of the electorate. That was what our founding fathers intended. When a justice loses his ethical sense of direction, his fellow justices need to take action because the Honorable Court needs to be above reproach.
We hope Chief Justice John Roberts looks into this matter and explains clearly why one justice was forced off the court and why another who may be guilty of a similar indiscretion has not been.
If the difference is simply one of power politics, the integrity of the court and the words "honorable court" will mean almost nothing.