What Are Clarence Thomas’s Doting Billionaires Really Buying?

Since ProPublica published an article about the “friendship” between a sitting Supreme Court Justice and a real estate billionaire, most of the attention has been focused on Harlan Crow, the Nazi-memorabilia collecting nepo baby who loves lavishing exorbitant gifts on government officials. 

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with looking deeper at the oligarch buying influence in our government, let’s not get distracted from the bigger theat: what Clarence Thomas is selling.

In 30 years on the highest court, Clarence Thomas hasn’t shown a lick of integrity, decency, engagement, or honor. For that exact reason, it can be hard to imagine what exactly Crow is getting for every statue he commissions to delight Clarence Thomas. The justice isn’t changing his rulings for the money or honoraria. He’s not treating cases differently, or trying to sway fellow jurists towards conclusions they would otherwise ignore. To the degree that he has any power or access, it’s hardly unique among the reliably conservative block on the court.

Looking at what passes for reasoning, one might call Thomas mediocre in effectiveness when compared to his colleagues. But that’s irrelevant to his buyers. In lieu of selling his (noticeably absent) soul, Clarence Thomas is selling his submission.

Beyond his ideological devotion to the reactionary right wing, Thomas accepts the luxurious treatment as a promise never to stray or rebel. The trips and gifts are simply in-kind payments for loyalty. It’s Crow’s way of saying — and Thomas’s way of replying — that their interests are permanently and meaningfully intertwined.

As if we needed more proof that billionaires aren’t like the rest of us: While we tend to get dogs or cats as pets, they buy Supreme Court justices.

And maybe if Thomas’s work didn’t deal in the rule of law and consent of the governed, he could contentedly bask in the sun and eat sumptuous meals and fall asleep in mildly inconvenient places in Harlan Crow’s various mansions. Maybe if Thomas weren’t tasked with public service in defense of the Constitution, it would be fine for him to fly on chartered jets and travel on expensive yachts as one citizen being friends with another.

But it is about the law. He is an officer of the court. And it’s not acceptable for him to sell his service. 

In a democracy, the federal courts and their members belong to all of us, not merely the ones who can afford custom-made statues of dictators and signed copies of Mein Kampf. The judicial oath that all justices take requires adherents to swear that they will administer fairly to the rich and the poor alike. While we can all recognize that hasn’t always been the reality, it becomes virtually impossible when the rich are handing out all-expenses-paid vacations across tropical archipelagos. 

So while it’s not like Clarence Thomas has been a model of judicial restraint and ethical prudence his entire time on the bench, it’s a legitimately unacceptable state of affairs to let him continue issuing decisions now that we know for certain Harlan Crow is serving him big, fat checks and buying his properties to do so. Not just because it’s obviously absurd to have billionaires paying for verdicts. Not just because Thomas is openly corrupt in accepting these bribes as rewards for his obedience.

But because any “justice” that comes with a price tag is worthless.

The Definitive Ranking Of Scott Pruitt’s Corruptions Scandals

Another one bites the dust. On Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned after months of controversies. Bye bitch! But as Pruitt moves onto his next planet-destroying adventure, we’re not going to forget all the weird shit he did. Here’s our definitive ranking of Scott Pruitt’s corruption scandals, because his tenure had more drama than a season of Real Housewives.

7. That Cheap-ass Condo

Ugh, it’s so hard to find a nice, affordable apartment, am I right? Not if you’re Scott Pruitt! Scotty Boy shacked up in a $50 a night condo right on Capitol Hill, which seems like way less than he should’ve been paying for that prime real estate. How did he get such a deal? Did he let his landlady show him endless pictures of her grandkids or something? No, actually. turns out he met privately with his landlady’s husband, who just so happened to be a lobbyist with business before the EPA.

6. The Used Trump Mattress

This one’s just weird. Pruitt allegedly sent one of his aides to buy him a used mattress. Specifically, Pruitt wanted a secondhand Trump Home Luxury Plush Euro Pillow Top, because Trump brand mattresses are the classiest mattresses. Leaving aside the fact that cabinet members aren’t supposed to make their aides buy them furniture, why the hell did Pruitt want a used mattress when he totally has enough money to afford a new one? You’re not supposed to buy used mattresses, Scott! YOU GET BEDBUGS THAT WAY.

5. Scrubbing His Calendar

Nothing to see here, folks, just the chief of the EPA keeping a secret calendar and making his aides alter his official record to hide controversial meetings about the fate of our planet.

4. Trying To Get His Wife A Job At Chick-Fil-A

I mean, it’s kind of sweet that Pruitt’s looking out for his wife? But he definitely shouldn’t have used his government sway to try to get his wife her own Chick-fil-A franchise, even though their chicken is damn good.

3. The Soundproof Phone Booth

Pruitt’s on-the-job spending was out-of-control, meaning that taxpayers had to pay for everything from his full-time security detail to his first class flights. But definitely the weirdest case of excessive spending is the nearly $43,000 soundproof phone booth he had installed in the EPA office. Look, I don’t like people listening to me talk on the phone either, but I just text instead.

2. Making His Staff Get Him Lotion

Sounds like Pruitt is one scaly-ass bitch, because he made his staff drive him around to a bunch of Ritz-Carltons in search of a fancy moisturizing lotion they sell. Yes girl, moisturizing is important but honestly, Aveeno probably works just as well.

1. Systematically Dismantling Environmental Protections

Pruitt did a ton of shitty things on the job, but the worst one was definitely being a climate change skeptic and dismantling environmental regulations for his own profit and greed. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Scotty.

(Of course, his successor will probably be a literal lump of coal, so it’s not like things are going to get much better.)

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