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Letter to Justice Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court - Recusing Himself from Deliberations on Healthcare Reform

Eshoo Calls on Justice Thomas to Recuse Himself from Healthcare Consideration

Justice's spouse has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from healthcare opponents

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), along with 75 Members of Congress, urged Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from deliberations on the constitutionality of healthcare reform. The Justice's spouse, Ginny Thomas, has financial ties to organizations dedicated to lobbying against the healthcare reform bill.

"Justice Thomas' wife has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from special interests dedicated to gutting healthcare reform. Ruling on the fate of the law when the Thomas' stand to gain by its repeal would represent a clear conflict of interest," Rep. Eshoo said. "It's essential that Justice Thomas recuse himself and avoid staining our highest court with partiality."

Justice Thomas' spouse is a paid lobbyist who has received $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank and opponent of healthcare reform. Justice Thomas failed to report the sum until recently. Ms. Thomas has also received an undisclosed salary as the CEO of Liberty Central, a conservative organization that actively opposes the new law.

Dear Justice Thomas:

As an Associate Justice, you are entrusted with the responsibility to exercise the highest degree of discretion and impartiality when deciding a case. 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. 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 appearance of a conflict of interest merits recusal under federal law. From what we have already seen, the line between your impartiality and you and your wife's financial stake in the overturn of health care reform is blurred. Your spouse is advertising herself as a lobbyist who has "experience and connections" and appeals to clients who want a particular decision - they want to overturn health care reform. Moreover, your failure to disclose Ginny Thomas's receipt of $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent opponent of health care reform, between 2003 and 2007 has raised great concern.

This is not the first case where your impartiality was in question. As Common Cause points out, you "participated in secretive political strategy sessions, perhaps while the case was pending, with corporate leaders whose political aims were advanced by the [5-4] decision" on the Citizens United case. Your spouse also received an undisclosed salary paid for by undisclosed donors as CEO of Liberty Central, a 501(c)(4) organization that stood to benefit from the decision and played an active role in the 2010 elections.

Given these facts, there is a strong conflict between the Thomas household's financial gain through your spouse's activities and your role as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. We urge you to recuse yourself from this case. If the US Supreme Court's decision is to be viewed as legitimate by the American people, this is the only correct path.

We appreciate your thoughtful consideration of this request.


Reps. Anna G. Eshoo, Anthony D. Weiner, Al Green, E.B. Johnson, Wm. Lacy Clay, Russ Carnahan, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Karen Bass, Richard Neal, Peter Welch, Judy Chu, John Yarmuth, Betty Sutton, Ed Perlmutter, Gerald Connolly, Dennis Kucinich, Kendrick Meeks, Allyson Schwartz, Lloyd Doggett, Gwen Moore, Jared Polis, Maxine Waters, Donald Payne, Bobby Rush, Steve Cohen, Joseph Crowley, Eliot Engel, David Cicilline, Susan Davis, Albio Sires, Mike Doyle, Louise Slaughter, Jim McDermott, Nydia Velazquez, John Garamendi, André Carson, Michael Capuano, Shelley Berkley, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Tim Bishop, Barbara Lee, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, John Conyers, John Larson, George Miller, Leonard Boswell, Donna Edwards, Lois Capps, Xavier Becerra, Theodore Deutch, Steve Israel, Bill Owens, Laura Richardson, Clarke, Mazie Hirono, Gary Ackerman, Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva, Chris Murphy, Lynn Woolsey, Peter DeFazio, Jesse Jackson Jr, Sylvester Reyes, Carolyn Maloney, Robert Andrews, Bill Pascrell, Bob Filner, Paul Tonko, Marcia Fudge, Maurice Hinchey, Mike Honda, Frank Pallone, Pete Stark

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