“Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is part of an old adage that maintains that “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The adage was coined by Lord Acton (picture above), in 1887, and included a conclusion that has been lost over the years; that conclusion was “Great men are almost always bad men”.
The current situation regarding the U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, is just the latest example. However, the very fact that he is a Supreme Court Justice makes his apparent total disregard for the rules, let alone any sort of ethics, more despicable than for most examples of corruption. The fact that he has arrogantly continued with these outrageous actions for over twenty years is unbelievable. Who the hell is watching the nations’ shop?
I’m sure most of my readers have seen the news in the last couple of days concerning Justice Thomas but, just in case you haven’t, let me summarize: Since the U.S. debacle of “Watergate” and President Nixon, all U.S. public officials are legally required to declare gifts they have received; I was speaking last night to a former public employee of the city where I live, and he said he had to refuse any gift worth more than $50.00…….and that’s at the local level.
The report in the ProPublica Journal, published a few days ago, documents, in detail: private jet flights; international cruises on super yachts; and stays, every summer, at exclusive private resorts….FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS!! One single trip on a private super yacht to Indonesia was calculated to have cost over half a million dollars.
The audacity to think he could get away with this, let alone his obvious belief in his entitlement to receive such gifts, is simply mind-blowing. On a more profound level, his sense of ethics, or apparent complete lack of them, is not only reprehensible, but undermines the very essence of the highest level of the U.S. legal system.
However, why should we be surprised? This is a man who has allowed himself to be manipulated and used by his much-younger wife for her own political agenda. That situation has become so blatant over the past few years, that it’s pretty obvious why she married him in the first place. Incredibly, no-one seems to have reminded him of his oath, his duty and his credibility as a justice when he has allowed his wife to use her position in the way she has. I realize that there will be comments about a man not controlling his wife’s comments but no-one would take the slightest notice of “Ginni’s” politically-biased rants if she was not a Supreme Court justice’s wife. The fact that she obviously influences her husband at a level that is incompatible with his oath of office, only makes his conduct worse….or even illegal. Why then would anyone be surprised that he has blatantly ignored the responsibilities, and regulations governing his office for so long. AND, yesterday, he came out with a flagrantly ridiculous public statement denying he had done anything wrong. It’s like the politician’s creed, which is, “When caught, always deny” and “When caught, with irrefutable evidence against you, deny even harder”.
Perhaps I should add an historical note here that when Clarence Thomas was going through his confirmation hearing, in front of the U.S. Senate, one of his former clerks, Anita Hill, brought a sexual harassment case against him and claimed his character was totally unfit for his proposed position. She was vilified in the press and in the political arena. Thomas’ antics since, recently revealed, would vindicate her claims of “unfit for office” and corruption.
Justice Thomas’s conduct is an insult to the U.S. justice system, and undermines the nation’s faith in it. He should be impeached immediately.
Unfortunately, impeachment requires a 2/3rds majority in the U.S, Senate, which is highly unlikely in the present political climate. In addition, and this will be a controversial comment although it shouldn’t be, he probably thinks he is untouchable because he is the only Black on the Supreme Court. If his arrogance extends to this level of corruption, it would be no surprise that his arrogance also extends to using his color as immunity.
For all the wrong reasons, he will probably survive because no-one in a position of power will dare risk standing up against him.
I have to ask, “Whatever happened to the ethics and civil responsibility that dictated you resign immediately at the slightest hint of scandal regardless of whether you are guilty or not?” Clearly a forgotten, and archaic, sense of selfless duty that we, the public, can only dream of as a characteristic of our public officials.