We’ve written extensively about the political shenanigans of Ginni Thomas and hubby Clarence Thomas’ refusal to recuse himself from cases she involves herself in and financially benefits from. But the financial secrecy is at least as concerning as her politicking. Politico noted that Justice Clarence Thomas “has chosen not to reveal any of his wife’s clients, let alone how much they contributed to the Thomas family coffers, dating back to when her consulting business was founded.”
Less obvious but just as important are the careers of Chief Justice John Roberts’ wife, Jane Roberts, and Jesse Barrett, husband of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Politico reported that Jane Roberts is a legal head-hunter at a firm representing “high-powered attorneys in their efforts to secure positions in wealthy firms,” meaning that her placements earn fat fees for her firm and, presumably herself.
Jane Roberts’ clients include lawyers or law firms sometimes with active Supreme Court practices, at least some of which were more likely to work with her because of her status as the chief justice’s spouse, three people close to law firms told POLITICO.
Jane Roberts has also represented top government officials at federal agencies with direct interests in court business, said Stephen Nelson, another D.C.-area hiring consultant who said he and Roberts had referred candidates to one another in the past.
Yet, Justice Roberts does not list her clients on his ethics form.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett redacted the clients and even the name of her husband’s law firm in her disclosure, even though he is featured prominently on the firm’s website.
SouthBank Legal — which lists fewer than 20 lawyers — has boasted clients across “virtually every industry”: automobile manufacturers, global banks, media giants, among others. They have included “over 25 Fortune 500 companies and over 15 in the Fortune 100,” according to the firm’s website.
But wait, there’s more. Politico also reported that “recent revelations suggest that certain interest groups have actively sought to influence the justices with expensive dining and entertainment, playing on their financial insecurities.”
Rob Schenck, an Assembly of God minister who headed the Faith and Action group headquartered near the Supreme Court from 1995 to 2018, said he arranged over the years for about 20 couples to fly to Washington to visit with and entertain Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and the late Antonin Scalia.
Schenck, who was once an anti-abortion activist but broke with the religious right in the last decade over its aggressive tactics and support for gun rights, said the couples were instructed before the dinners to use certain phrases to influence the justices while steering clear of the specifics of cases pending before the court — for example, to “talk about the importance of a child having a father and a mother,” rather than engage in the particulars of a gay-rights case.
“We would rehearse lines like, ‘We believe you are here for a time like this,’” which is a reference to the Old Testament Book of Esther in which the Hebrew woman born with the name Hadassah becomes queen of Persia and succeeds in preventing a genocide of her people.
Memo to Justice Alito: If you really care about the legitimacy and integrity of the Supreme Court, you should work on addressing the concerns instead of just scolding us for having them.