Anthony Weiner: Clarence Thomas Should Recuse Himself from Healthcare Case
Rep. Anthony Weiner joined the set of John King's show to discuss whether Supreme Court Justice Clarance Thomas should recuse himself from any case involving the healthcare law given his wife Ginni's conflicts of interests. And who better for King to bring on to counter him than our favorite flame thrower, Erick Erickson.
The Hill has more -- Democrats: Justice Thomas should recuse himself in healthcare reform case:
A group of 73 House Democrats on Wednesday demanded U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recuse himself from any case examining the constitutionality of healthcare reform.
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and 72 other colleagues wrote Thomas on Wednesday to ask him to sit out any Supreme Court review of President Obama's healthcare law, citing the work by Thomas's wife on behalf of efforts opposing that healthcare law.
"As members of Congress, we were surprised by recent revelations of your financial ties to leading organizations dedicated to lobbying against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," the Democrats wrote. "We write today to respectfully ask that you maintain the integrity of this court and recuse yourself from any deliberations on the constitutionality of this act."
The letter reflects the growing political gamesmanship on both sides of the aisle in regard to court challenges to healthcare reform. [...]
The Democrats' demand in this instance is based on concerns about the political advocacy conducted by Ginny Thomas, a Tea Party and conservative activist. Mrs. Thomas advertises herself as a lobbyist for "clients who want a particular decision — they want to overturn health care reform," the Democrats said.
Transcript via CNN below the fold.
KING: Explosive new showdown tonight over the Obama health care law. We know the question of whether the law is constitutional will be settled ultimately by the Supreme Court. And there are new requests today from Republican governors and Virginia's attorney general for the court to expedite that review.
Most court watchers see Justice Anthony Kennedy as the likely tie breaker if the high court's traditional divide, right and left, plays out. But what if conservative Clarence Thomas recused himself? Seventy-six House Democrats sent the Justice Department a letter today demanding he do just that. They cite the lobbying and other political work done by Virginia Thomas for the prominent opponents of the health care law and write that it poses his wife's work as, quote, "a strong conflict."
The lead author of the letter, New York's Anthony Weiner joins us now. Also, rejoining us from Atlanta, CNN contributor Erick Erickson.
Congressman, to you first -- very rare for judges to recuse themselves. You decided to send this letter. There are those on your side who will say it's a valid legal argument and, as you know, there will be conservatives who will say it's a political stunt.
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Well, you know, your viewers can take a look yourself. This is a pretty simple call, if you look at the law and we've started a Web site: conflictedclarencethomas.com where we're going to post the actual U.S. Code that says when a judge must recuse himself.
And I'm going to read you the exact language. "He knows that he individually or his spouse or minor child has a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy."
There is now no dispute that Mrs. Thomas did to a magnitude of about $685,000. The only question here is whether or not Justice Thomas goes ahead and takes that step.
I just want to correct your intro. We wrote to Justice Thomas and saying, listen, given the facts of the case that are now clear, although they weren't originally disclosed as they were supposed to be by law, now we know them. It's a pretty simple question in the eyes of the law that this guy does indeed have a financial interest in the outcome of this case, and for that reason, he should recuse himself.
KING: Erick, what the congressman is talking about is the justice did, as you know, recently resubmitted his financial disclosure forms because he had left off his wife's income. That money the congressman is talking about came from the Heritage Foundation, which opposes the Obama health care law, the justice said it was an oversight, he didn't understand the directions on the form.
But I want you to weigh in, Erick. But, first, I want you to listen to Ginni Thomas because this is a fascinating question. She is very active politically. She worked at the Heritage Foundation. She also has been involved in Tea Party-associated groups.
Listen to her speaking at the Steamboat Institute back in August.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINNI THOMAS, LIBERTYCENTRAL.ORG: I think we need to repeal Obamacare. We need to repeal the Dodd-Frank bill before it gets hold. I think we need to sunset programs all over the place. I think we need to freeze government employment and cap their salary at some comparable level to the private sector.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A somewhat predictable, if you will -- I don't mean that in a bad way -- list of conservative goals, Erick. But I think we need to repeal Obamacare. Her husband gets a key vote.
ERICKSON: Yes. Fascinating. This may be the first time the Democrats have ever asserted that a woman can't have a job separate from her husband and live her own life separately. Fascinating.
You know, I suspect none of the members of Congress who signed this letter will also sign a letter to Elena Kagan urging her to step down since she was solicitor general up until she got on the Supreme Court and after this litigation started working its way through the process.
And, you know, looking at some of these members of Congress who signed the letters, I mean, Congressman Weiner, yourself, your wife works for the State Department. You've never recused yourself from the State Department budget when that money ultimately winds its way into your wife's paycheck. This is all political.
KING: Congressman, address that.
WEINER: Well, let me just say this. There is a reason the law refers to the spouse of a judge. The judges have a different level of authority than I do in this case. Whatever the Supreme Court rules -- you know, under lower courts, if a lower court gets something wrong, or someone has undue influence, that's the grounds for an appeal to a higher court.
Where do we go in the case of the Supreme Court? This is the law of the land that he has to recuse himself in this case.
Now, I have to say, frankly, this is not just the Heritage Foundation. She was the CEO of a lobbying firm who claimed on their Web site to have great influence over the outcome of the health care law. If this is not a case of the appearance of conflict, I don't know what is.
And, by the way, let me say this, $685,000 -- if it came into my household, would I check -- would I check "no" on the form, a legal form saying there's no income from my wife? I doubt it. He should recuse himself and I think people who go to conflictedclarencethomas.com can see all these documents plain and clear.
KING: That's an interesting debate. We will stay on top of it. And we'll explore the Kagan connection, too. It's interesting as this case makes its way through the court.
Congressman Weiner, thank for your time. Erick Erickson, as well.