As the Obama Administration launched into healthcare reform, I became excited for multiple reasons.
1.) Coverage for 45 million people who are without.
2.) Opportunity to impact the skyrocketing cost of healthcare via insurance companies.
3.) Discontinuation of greedy denial policies by insurance companies.
4.) A fundamental distaste for companies which increased their profitability by 440 percent over a ten-year period ending in the Spring of 2010.
My excitement waned as I watched political maneuvering from the GOP and Blue Dog Democrats in resistance to reform. I became seriously sick of mind as I watched a Democrat negotiate his signature for extraction of any verbiage related to abortion. So now, the nation has a form of healthcare reform.
A Universal Healthcare Bill was the reform that was good for the nation. But, that is not what President Obama signed into law.
In order for the legislation to properly work, it requires coverage for all Americans via an individual mandate. The mandate is at the heart of last Thursday’s Supreme Court decision to hear various appeals from state and federal district court rulings. Half of the States have fought the legislation with the mandate at the root of their protest. A year and a half after the legislation was signed into law, the Obama Administration requested a Supreme Court hearing of the case.
The PPACA has become an object for political positioning, possible judicial activism, and could force review of Supreme Court Justice scrutiny.
Political positioning; a fact of life since January 20, 2009; the day Barack Obama took office.
Judicial activism; The Court is divided into liberal and conservative chambers with a noticeable absence of even quasi-independent or ‘swing’ Justices–Kennedy aside.
Force Review of Justices? Justices are appointed for life. They can be removed from the Court by impeachment or they can recuse themselves from cases before the Bench. Justice Sotomayor has recused herself from cases within the past few months.
Both Justice Scalia, Thomas and Alito have been photographed and in some cases approached by TV camera news crews about their attendance at conservative conferences.
Advocacy groups like Common Cause have filed charges with the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, stemming from Justice attendance at conservative events while deliberating the Citizens United Court Case. Thomas and Scalia have been photographed as expense-paid attendees at annual conservative events. The Koch Brothers are sponsors of the events. The Koch are ‘uber’ rich conservatives who helped to fund the Tea party movement and who are involved with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) [ALEC Exposed].
On the very day the SCOTUS decided to hear the case Scalia and Thomas were honorees at the Federalist Society Dinner. The Dinner was sponsored by a large group of donors (CLICK to view the list of donor companies). While The Federalist Society Dinner is sponsored by dozens of companies or firms, one notable sponsor is the law firm of an attorney who could argue the case before the Court: Paul Clement.
Clement’s law firm, Bancroft PLLC, was one of almost two dozen firms that helped sponsor the annual dinner of the Federalist Society, a longstanding group dedicated to advocating conservative legal principles.
As I opened the article with reference to the Court’s decision to deliberate the constitutionality of the PPACA, issues with conservative Justice interaction and obvious support for conservative causes is troubl some. It is also a violation of The Code of Conduct for Judges .
According to Common Cause….
……which binds all other federal judges, “a judge may attend fundraising events of law related and other organizations, although the judge may not be a speaker, a guest of honor, or featured on the program of such an event.”
“This stunning breech of ethics and indifference to the code belies claims by several justices that the Court abides by the same rules that apply all other federal judges,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “The justices were wining and dining at a black tie fundraiser with attorneys who have pending cases before the court. Their appearance and assistance in fundraising for this event undercuts any claims of impartiality, and is unacceptable.”
Common Cause places finishing touches on the issue of improper fraternization by three Court Justices as follows.
Paul Clement, counsel for parties in the 11th Circuit case that challenged the law, sat at a table sandwiched between Scalia and Thomas, according to the program. His law firm, Bancroft PLLC, is listed as a “silver” sponsor of the dinner. Justice Samuel Alito, a past speaker, was also in attendance. The law firm Jones Day, another “silver” sponsor, is representing parties in another case challenging the law the Supreme Court agreed to hear today.
While, I am not certain the offenses by Scalia, Thomas and Alito warrant impeachment consideration, I thought I would seek a question from Answers.com.
Can a US Supreme Court justice be impeached and removed from office?
Under normal circumstances, a Supreme Court justice is awarded a lifetime commission.
A Supreme Court Justice may be impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office if convicted in a Senate trial, but only for the same types of offenses that would trigger impeachment proceedings for any other government official under Articles I and II of the Constitution.
Article III, Section 1 states that judges of Article III courts shall hold their offices “during good behavior.” “The phrase “good behavior” has been interpreted by the courts to equate to the same level of seriousness ‘high crimes and misdemeanors” encompasses.
Justice Thomas has an additional concern regarding his ability to give a ‘fair’ hearing to the health care legislation. His wife is a lobbyist for the Tea Party and has been serving in that role since founding her lobbying consulting firm: Liberty Consulting. Ms Thomas has also received payment for her efforts on behalf of her lobbying efforts against health care reform.
Following a time-honored Washington tradition of dumping required but embarrassing information on a Friday night before a major holiday, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas finally released the details of his wife’s income from her year or so working for the tea party group Liberty Central, which fought President Obama’s health care reform law. His new financial disclosure form indicates that his wife, Virginia, who served as Liberty Central’s president and CEO, received $150,000 in salary from the group and less than $15,000 in payments from an anti-health care lobbying firm she started.
All said, the SCOTUS has at least two judicial activists who have affiliation with conservative causes and organizations. Neither Justice has technically committed acts that call for impeachment, although I could argue that point with myself for hours.
However, Thomas must recuse himself from hearing the PPACA Case. Alito and Scalia are also suspect as being unable to render an impartial or unbiased decision. The Obama Administration should pursue judgment about their ability to fairly hear the case and the judgment should include consideration of blatant violation of Codes of Conduct for Judges.