Clarence Thomas and the Courts for the Rich

ProPublica recently revealed that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has for decades received luxury trips from billionaire Harlan Crow and even sold properties to Crow for tens of thousands of dollars – none of which he disclosed on his financial reports, even though this is required by law. 

But while most of the media has been focusing on Thomas’s individual indiscretion in not releasing the records, this report reveals something much deeper about the way that the Supreme Court and the judicial branch of the U.S. function. For decades, Thomas cultivated a deep and close relationship with the real estate billionaire and his ilk – including top executives from Verizon and the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Thomas’s time is taken up with parties with the One Percent.

Close bonds between the judiciary and the rich aren’t facilitated just by personal friendships. These links have been systematized through institutions such as The Federalist Society. The Federalist Society is a nonprofit, started by money from the Olin Foundation, that brings together right-wing lawyers, judges, and law professors, and the very rich. The Federalist Society has been at the forefront of the attempts to end legal abortion rights and roll back environmental and business regulations – all to the benefit of its millionaire and billionaire founders.

But none of this should come as a surprise. Justices kowtowing to the rich and powerful and their interests is not a new story even if politicians want to complain about the so-called politicization of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has been a bastion of reactionary politics since it was created and Supreme Court Justices have been among those leading the charge to restrict our rights. The Supreme Court has already overturned the right to have an abortion and rolled back environmental protections and civil rights, and is set to roll back gay and trans rights. Clarence Thomas may be the most brazen in his fealty to the ruling class, but every Justice serves the interests of the rich.