Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Clarence Thomas' conflict of interest (#1902)

Having a conflict of interest while having a say over policy and recusing oneself used to be a principled requirement, albeit a voluntary requirement. Elected officials would recuse themselves when their votes would either bring them personal wealth from a vote or cause them personal loss of wealth. It was a tradition within our society that was trying to maintain a sense of fairness. However, when we have a Supreme Court Justice like Clarence Thomas who has had numerous obvious conflicts of interests and yet continues to vote in every way that benefits him and his family, we are not honoring the tradition of recusal when appropriate, we are instead destroying the appearance of fairness. That Thomas has a lifetime appointment seems to lessen his concern that his actions will be sanctioned in some way that would force him to leave the Court. He knows that he doesn't have to honor the traditions and norms since there is no sovereign authority powerful enough to punish him for being less honorable that expected. His actions have had a warming effect on others who used to be concerned with the downside to a conflict of interest and has instead opened the floodgates for those who wish to adjudicate on subjects that profit them personally. The lack of ethics involved in using the public trust for one's own gain is more prevalent now that a Supreme Court Justice like Thomas has effectively displayed his own disdain for upholding ethics generally. What irks me most is that we cannot in any properly measured realistic way remove this man for his duplicitous actions when he is supposed to be a guiding beacon heralding democratic values. Others with less honorable traits are following his lead and for that he should be ashamed and resign of his own accord.

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