21
Sun, Apr

Boot His Bottom off the Bench

Clarence Thomas and Harlan Crow

VOICES

ACCORDING TO LIZ - All it took to get me hot under the collar again about Clarence Thomas, the excrescence on the Supreme Court who continues to exert inordinate power over the people of the United States was reading a page or two near the end of Barbra Streisand’s autobiography. So, once more into the breach... 

Almost all the Supreme Court justices have net worths in the millions which reduce their ability to empathize with any but the wealthiest of Americans but, on top of living in that rarified atmosphere, Clarence Thomas continues to be a perennial and active shill for the billionaire class in the shape of Harlan Crow. 

Crow Holdings Capital and its profiteering allies constantly decry what they perceive as “substantial governmental intervention” including basic protections of the air and water and procedures of vital concern to ordinary people such as eviction moratoria and federal or state restrictions on various types of rent controls. 

In 2021 Thomas voted to strike down the federal pandemic eviction ban... which was threatening the real estate business of the Injustice’s billionaire backer Crow who was cited in Congressional testimony for being one of the country’s most frequent eviction filers, despite the eviction moratorium. 

A clear conflict of interest. 

Another documented threat to Crow Holdings’ business is before the Supreme Court right now, arguing that rent regulations are unconstitutional. Specifically one that prevents a landlord from removing unlimited rent-controlled units from the market, purportedly for personal or family-member use, and then employ the “owner-use” loophole to decontrol them so they can be relisted at an unregulated price. 

A clear conflict of interest. 

This week the Court was scheduled to hear a case that could eviscerate broader protections for Americans and release the restraints that have kept corporate bad actors in line for generations. If these are removed, deep pocket interests will have an avenue to incessantly pursue litigation against regulations, eroding what little power the little people have now. 

Then there is the case about whether the EPA has the right to regulate air pollution nationwide, specifically toxic fumes and particulate matter that originate in one state but don’t recognize maps putting people on the other side of the border at significant health risks. 

Both challenges, if they succeed, will directly benefit the corporate interests so beloved of Crow and the rest of the Thomas coterie, as well as the multitude of shadowy interests supporting (in)Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and John Roberts. 

Uh, conflict of interest anyone? 

The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), a trade group that counts three of Crow’s companies as dues-paying members has called for the rollback of regulations they consider repressive to housing construction including the gutting of parts of the Clean Water Act. 

The NHMC, allied with fossil fuels, mining, corporate agricultural and real estate interests, is committed to weakening the scope of federal regulatory authority over water bodies including environmental regulations protecting groundwater and wetlands. 

Crow Holdings has numerous other interlinking ties to deep-pocket PACs, organizations and individuals channeling millions in donations to elected and appointed officials specifically to support his personal profitability, and to leverage decisions by supposedly independent agencies in his favor. 

Over and over again, Thomas has failed to recuse himself from cases where he, his wife, or close associates were affiliated with one or more of the involved parties. 

This is compounded by his ongoing failure to distance himself from his wife’s complicity in urging the overthrow of the Biden election, de facto revealing Thomas as a supporter of Trump’s lies. 

A clear conflict of interest in prior and upcoming cases addressing Trump’s malfeasances. 

A congenital liar himself, Thomas had failed to report any of the multiple shady dealings that were exposed by the press in the past year and presumably many more to come – decades of high-value billionaire-funded trips and vacations in the company of aggressive advocates for conservative change, lavish presents from people with political agendas, personal profiteering of the worst kind – all while urging the Court to eliminate disclosure laws. 

The evidence keeps mounting, but the (in)Justices can’t even get their act together over basic ethics rules. 

And Thomas is just one of many, the tip of the iceberg of the bullying and buying of America’s government by the plutocracy. 

Worse, his documented objectification of women, dating back to his high-profile confirmation protests that exploded the issue of workplace harassment, underlines Thomas’ total lack of empathy for over half of Americans. 

That plus the obvious fact that he is clearly bereft of common sense makes Thomas unsuitable for continued work on the Supreme Court, and has legitimately led to calls for his impeachment. 

If only... 

Going back to where this article started, to Barbra Streisand’s 1992 speech accepting an award from Women in Film on behalf of herself and her contemporary female directors... 

At that time, she felt that the opportunities for women in Hollywood had actually worsened since the advent of movie-making. And that the kind of gender discrimination she initially faced with Yentl was still the rule, not only in making movies but in every aspect of life. 

And she was sick and tired of it. 

She was not alone; the Clarence Thomas hearings were a catalyst for so many women. When the seven Democratic congresswomen marched to the Capitol to demand a delay in the confirmation vote so Anita Hill could testify about egregious sexual harassment by Thomas, it did nothing to sway the vote. Instead the men closed ranks and, as too often happens, vilified the victim. 

Streisand gave voice to the pain of so many women aspiring to contribute anywhere, anywhen, in what she said to those attending the Women in Film event: 

“Language gives us an insight into the way women are viewed in a male-dominated society ...

A man is commanding – a woman is demanding.

A man is forceful – a woman is pushy.

A man is uncompromising – a woman is a ballbreaker.

A man is a perfectionist – a woman is a pain in the ass.

He’s assertive – she’s aggressive.

He strategizes – she manipulates.

He shows leadership – she’s controlling.

He’s committed – she’s obsessed.

He’s persevering – she’s relentless.

He sticks to his guns– she’s stubborn.

If a man wants to get it right, he’s looked up to and respected. If a woman wants to get it right, she’s difficult and impossible.” 

Well maybe it’s time for women to be forceful and uncompromising, to strategize and persevere, and to boot Clarence Thomas off the bench and out of the marble halls of justice. 

To stand proud, and then move on to right other wrongs; to ensure quality leadership and real justice for all Americans.

(Liz Amsden is a contributor to CityWatch and an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions.  In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)