Yesterday we had three stories that demonstrate how insane today’s Republican party has become.
The Tennessee Three
In Tennessee, the Republican supermajority just voted to expel two of three lawmakers who had led an anti-gun protest on the House floor, in the wake of the murder of six people at the Covenant School. The two who were expelled were young black men; the one who just managed to hang on was a white woman. They all did the same thing.
All three admitted that they broke the House rules. In a sane world, they would have been reprimanded, which would be appropriate. But not expelled. The NC House Republican speaker tried to defend their actions by claiming that the protests were “worse” than the January 6th insurrection.
Maybe in a fantasy world. The January 6th insurrection was about overturning the government, and six people were killed. The NC protests were about getting the legislature to act on gun reform, and no one was in any danger.
You know who should have been expelled from the Tennessee legislature. All the Republican cowards who have yet to do a bloody thing to protect their children from sociopaths with assault weapons. That’s who!
Threats to Impeach Judge Janet Protasiewicz
In Wisconsin, Judge Janet Protasiewicz was just elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, giving the court the ability to determine the legitimacy of the most gerrymandered state in the nation, and also the chance to challenge the state’s ur-alt abortion restrictions. The state’s Republican party is already threatening to impeach her.
Aren’t public officials supposed to be impeached for major malfeasance? For doing very bad things? This woman hasn’t even started to serve yet.
In a sane world there would be no talk of impeachment before she has taken office. Of course, if she were to be impeached, Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor could appoint her replacement, so it’s not clear what advantage this strategy would bring.
Clarence Thomas Ethical Violations
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has already proved on many occasions that he does not care about ethics. His wife Ginny is a Republican activist who was very engaged in the effort to overturn the 2020 election. That didn’t prevent Thomas from recusing himself in deciding cases that involved the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
By now it’s also well established that Thomas really did sexually harass Anita Hill, while he was the Director of the EEOC. That’s like the Director of the Internal Revenue Service being convicted of tax fraud. The Senate should have rejected his candidacy, but they had already rejected the candidacy of Robert Bork, and they didn’t think they could reject two candidates in a row. And we’ve been stuck with Thomas, the definition of an Uncle Tom, ever since. (Bork died in 2012 and wouldn’t have voted any worse than Thomas. Clarence, on the other hand, will probably live for another dozen years, and we’ll never be rid of that mother.)
Now it turns out that for almost 20 years Thomas and his wife have been receiving luxury trips from Republican billionaire and mega-donor Harlan Crow. These trips have included cruises on luxury yachts, stays in private resorts, and island hopping in Indonesia. Crow also gave Thomas numerous gifts, including a Bible valued at $19,000 (that once belonged to Frederick Douglass) and a bust of Abraham Lincoln valued at $15,000. At the same time, Crow gave half a million dollars to a Tea Party group founded by Ginni Thomas, which also paid her a $120,000 salary; Crow also served on the Board of Trustees for the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institute, which often file amicus briefs before the Supreme Court.
None of these gifts were ever reported on financial disclosure forms.
Thomas responded to the concerns by noting that personal gifts don’t normally need to be disclosed on financial forms. That’s true, of course, but we’re talking about small personal gifts between family and friends, like a pair of cuff links from your children. Or maybe a golf outing at a friend’s country club. Not island hopping off a super-yacht in Indonesia.
But, as we know, there is no explicit code of conduct that governs the Supreme Court, so Thomas can sort of fudge a certain amount of plausible deniability. He claims that nothing judicial was ever discussed.
How would we ever know?
Harlan Crow is certainly politically active, and as with so many things with Thomas, it doesn’t pass the smell test.
But watch while Republicans rush to his defense in a way that they never would have done for Ruth Bader Ginsberg.