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‘Double Standard’: Legal Experts Slam Dems For Ignoring Liberal Justice’s Failure To Disclose Spouse’s Consulting Work

  • Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nominee financial disclosure from March 2022 reveals she “inadvertently omitted” consulting income her spouse “periodically receives from consulting on medical malpractice cases” on previous reports.
  • Conservative legal experts said Jackson’s disclosure, along with amendments Justice Sonia Sotomayor has made to her reports, show attacks on Clarence Thomas for his alleged ethics violation in failing to disclose expense paid vacations he received from his friend and billionaire real estate developer Harlan Crow are hypocritical.
  • “The double standard toward conservatives reeks,” Mark Paoletta, a Schaerr-Jaffe law firm partner who worked on Thomas’ confirmation as a lawyer in the White House Counsel’s office, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Conservative legal scholars are calling attacks on Clarence Thomas for his alleged ethics violations hypocritical in light of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s financial disclosure as a nominee, which shows she omitted portions of her income on previous filings, including money from her husband’s consulting work.

Democratic lawmakers are calling for Thomas’ resignation following ProPublica’s report that he failed to disclose expense-paid vacations he received from his friend and billionaire real estate developer Harlan Crow. Yet Jackson’s nominee disclosure filed in March 2022, which notes that she “inadvertently omitted” income her spouse “periodically receives from consulting on medical malpractice cases” on prior reports, has received little attention, which legal experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation shows there is a double standard for conservative justices.

Mike Davis, Founder and President of the Article III Project, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that Jackson’s disclosure shows Democratic lawmakers’ focused attacks on Thomas after reports that he allegedly violated ethics rules are “hypocritical and dishonest.”

“Jackson only told us her husband made money in ‘legal malpractice consulting,’ which is about as opaque as you can get,” he said. “Where did this money come from? Who are his clients? Did these clients have any matter before Jackson while she served as a federal judge for the prior decade? Jackson left out this required information in her disclosures for nearly 10 years, and she stated in her 2022 confirmation disclosures that she’d amend them later. Where are the amendments?”

Jackson not only omitted details about her husband’s work, she also excluded details about her own positions.

“My 2014 and 2016 annual reports inadvertently omitted reimbursements from: (i) the University of California, Berkeley School of Law for expenses to attend a panel discussion in October 2014, and (ii) the Aspen Institute for expenses to attend a Justice and Society seminar in July 2016,” the disclosure states. “In addition, my 2014 annual report inadvertently omitted my salary of $1,765 from George Washington University for teaching a Federal Sentencing Seminar.”

In October, Fix the Court, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Free Law Project and Project On Government Oversight did send a letter to Congress requesting legislation requiring justices’ spouses to disclose their income. Justices Jackson, Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, all have spouses who do consulting work.

However, Mark Paoletta, a Schaerr-Jaffe law firm partner who worked on Thomas’ confirmation in 1991 as a lawyer in the White House Counsel’s office, noted the Left never accused Jackson of “trying to hide her husband’s income.”

“It was an oversight and she made the change, though I am not certain she has properly disclosed the sources of her husband’s income,” he said. “But if a conservative Justice makes an amendment, that Justice is corrupt. The double standard toward conservatives reeks.”

Thomas intends to amend his disclosure to include Crow’s purchase of his mother’s home after a seperate ProPublica report detailed the transaction, a source close to him told CNN.

Paoletta noted there have been many other examples of Justices amending their disclosure forms, showing Democrats’ outrage at Thomas to be “decidedly partisan.”

“For example, Justice Sotomayor has amended her forms on four separate occasions, including amending her 2016 disclosure forms in 2021 to include six trips she made in which a third party paid for travel, lodging and food,” he said. “This was six years late. Was there any outrage?? No. Nobody called her character into question. It was an oversight and she fixed it.”

Further, he pointed out that one of the congressmen leading the charge against Thomas has himself had to amend campaign finance reports that failed to disclose crucial information. Democratic Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson led a news conference with other lawmakers on Wednesday calling on Thomas to resign.

“It’s comical to watch Democrat Rep. Hank Johnson criticize Justice Thomas when Rep. Johnson had to amend his financial disclosure forms for failing to report that his campaign paid his wife thousands of dollars,” Paoletta said.

Davis said Democrats are wrong to call the reports on Thomas a scandal.

“For Democrats to pretend that Justice Thomas’ disclosures–related to his best friend of 25 years, with no business before the Supreme Court–were an unprecedented scandal is yet another smear against a justice they’ve tried to chase off the court for the last 31 years,” he said. “They’ll do anything to punish him for leaving the Democrats’ plantation and being an independent thinker.”

The conversation, Paoletta asserted, is not really about ethics. Instead, it stretches back to attacks Thomas has faced since his confirmation hearing with Anita Hill’s “unfounded” allegations of sexual harassment.

“The Democrats and the Left have lost the battle for ideas at the Supreme Court, with Justice Thomas ascendant as the Court’s leader,” he said. “After failing to destroy him in 1991, the Democrats have never stopped attacking him with baseless and hyped-up smears, and these attacks are the latest in that effort. Justice Thomas is our greatest Justice, who enrages the Left because he has never bowed to their attacks.”

Jackson could not immediately be reached for comment.

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