Join President and Founder Barbara R. Arnwine, Esq. along with Co-Host and Chair Board, Daryl D. Jones, Esq., Every Tuesday from 12:00pm to 1:00pm
The Igniting Change Radio Show on Tuesday, May 9th, 2023, from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Eastern Time, entitled, “Supreme Misconduct? Addressing the Crisis in the Courts, Part 2”, will feature Radio Show Co-Hosts and Transformative Justice Coalition (TJC) Co-Leaders Attorneys Barbara Arnwine, Esq. and Daryl Jones, Esq. and special guests Congressman Ro Khanna and Former US District Court Judge Alexander Williams to continue last week’s examination of the continuing national controversy over the revelations of ethical misconduct by justices of the Supreme Court of the United States and what it means. The first half hour of the show will focus on an interview with Congressman Ro Khanna to discuss his perspectives on this debacle, how his fellow congressional members are reacting, and his legislative proposals to reform the Supreme Court. He has been outspoken on this issue and has introduced legislation for term limits on Supreme Court justices. Igniting Change’s other expert guest, Former US District Court Judge Alexander Williams, will join Co-hosts Arnwine and Jones for the entire show and may also ask questions to Congressman Ro Khanna during the first two segments. Daryl and Barbara will also give a brief overview of the May 3rd “Freedom To Learn” Day of Action and other events.
Be sure to invite your friends to listen live at WOL 1450 AM in the Greater DC Metro Region, and nationwide and globally on the Internet at WOLDCNEWS.com and BarbaraArnwine.com. Listeners can call in with questions at 800-450-7876.
Please note, during the show there are 3 hard stop commercial breaks at 12:13 PM Eastern Time, 12:28 PM ET and 12:43 PM ET. We will stop all guests from speaking right before each break.
Congressman Ro Khanna: 12:00 PM – 12:28 PM Eastern Time
Representative Ro Khanna is a leading voice in the House working to restore American manufacturing and technology leadership, improve the lives of working people, and advance U.S. leadership on climate, human rights, and diplomacy around the world. Khanna proudly represents California’s 17th Congressional District, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, and is serving his fourth term. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee as ranking member of the Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies and Information Systems (CITI), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, a member of the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, and on the Oversight and Accountability committee, where he previously chaired the Environmental Subcommittee. Khanna authored the Endless Frontier Act, which formed the basis for the sweeping CHIPS and Science Act signed into law by President Biden. He is Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Environmental Subcommittee; During the Inflation Reduction Act negotiations, Khanna played a key role in ensuring that important climate provisions remained in the final deal. Khanna is a strong supporter of the labor movement and has pushed for policies like the PRO Act to ensure that no one with a full-time job needs to rely on food stamps, housing vouchers, or other welfare. He is also one of only a few members of Congress to refuse contributions from PACs and lobbyists. He supports a 12-year term limit for Members of Congress, 18 years for Supreme Court Justices, and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. Since arriving in Congress, he has had five bills signed into law. Prior to serving in Congress, he taught economics at Stanford University and served as deputy assistant secretary of commerce in the Obama administration. He has written two books: Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key to America’s Future and Dignity in a Digital Age.
Former US District Court Judge Alexander Williams: 12:00 PM – 12:57 PM Eastern Time
Immediately following law school, in 1973, Judge Williams served as law clerk to the Honorable James H. Taylor of the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Maryland. He engaged in private practice at various times from 1974 to 1986. Judge Williams performed in other capacities during this period, including municipal attorney for Fairmount Heights, 1975-87; part-time substitute juvenile master for Prince George’s County Circuit Court, 1976-77; assistant public defender for Prince George’s County Public Defender’s Office, 1977-78; part-time special counsel and hearing examiner for Prince George’s County Board of Education, 1978-87; and municipal attorney, Glenarden, 1980-87. Judge Williams was a Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law from 1978-89. From 1987 to 1994, Judge Williams served as the elected State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County, Maryland. On August 3, 1993, Judge Williams was nominated by President Clinton for a vacancy in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. His nomination was confirmed by the Senate on August 17, 1994, and Judge Williams received his commission on August 18, 1994. Judge Williams elected senior status on May 8, 2013 and retired from the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland on January 3, 2014. In addition, he is the founder, member and first president of the J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association, as well as a member of the National and Prince George’s County Bar Associations. Some of Judge Williams’ professional associations include a member of the Commission on Medical Discipline, 1980-85; member of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, 1983-87, and chair, 1986-87; member of the State’s Attorneys Coordination Council, 1987-89; member of the Court of Appeals Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, 1984-86; and member of the Handgun Roster Board, 1992-94.
“On 6 April, an investigation by ProPublica found that Justice Clarence Thomas had, over decades, accepted millions of dollars’ worth of private plane flights, ‘superyacht’ trips and luxury vacations from the Texas billionaire and conservative megadonor Harlan Crow – and that, in alleged violation of federal ethics law, he had not disclosed almost any of it. Subsequent reporting revealed that Crow had in fact bought Thomas’s childhood home in Savannah, Georgia, where the justice’s elderly mother still lives, along with several plots on the block. After paying Thomas for the real estate, the billionaire cleared local blight, made significant renovations to the house and allowed Thomas’s mother to continue living there, rent-free. None of those transactions had been detailed on Thomas’s ethics forms, either. In addition to the soft influence Crow would have been able to buy with his extensive largesse, the billionaire’s generous gifts also seem to have created a direct conflict of interest for Justice Thomas: Crow’s firm had business before the US supreme court at least once, and Thomas did not recuse himself from the case. It is not Thomas’s first time in ethical hot water. He was famously accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, including Anita Hill, during his time in the Reagan administration as head of the employee-rights protection watchdog, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He has been accused of having perjured himself in his subsequent testimony about his behavior toward Hill at his confirmation hearings. During his long tenure on the court, he has repeatedly had trouble filling out his financial disclosure forms correctly. Once, he failed to report more than half a million dollars in income that his wife, the conservative activist Ginni Thomas, received from the rightwing Heritage Foundation. He said at the time that he had misunderstood the forms. That was also his excuse regarding Harlan Crow’s largesse. Thomas claims that he was advised that he did not have to report ‘hospitality’. It is a loophole in the ethics code that is meant to relieve judges of having to report, say, barbecue dinners at the homes of their neighbors – not, as Thomas claims he took it to mean, luxury yacht tours of Indonesia.
“…Politico revealed this week that just nine days after his confirmation to the US supreme court in April 2017, Justice Neil Gorsuch sold a log cabin in Colorado to Brian Duffy, the chief executive of the prominent law firm Greenberg Traurig. Before Gorsuch’s confirmation, the justice and the other co-owners of the home had tried for two years to sell it, without success. Since the sale, Duffy’s firm has had business before the court at least 22 times. Gorsuch did disclose the income from the sale on financial disclosure forms, but failed to mention that the buyer was a big shot at one of the country’s largest law firms who would regularly bring cases before Gorsuch at his new job. It’s certainly possible that Duffy simply liked the house, and that the convenient timing of his purchase so soon after Gorsuch’s confirmation to the court was a mere coincidence. And it seems reasonable to believe Thomas and Crow when they say that they are sincere friends, if less reasonable to believe Thomas when he claims that he misunderstood his disclosure obligations. But corruption need not be as vulgar and direct as a quid pro quo: it can be the subtle machinations of influence and sympathy that occur in these relationships, inflected both by money and by closeness, that lead the justices to see cases as they otherwise wouldn’t, or act in ways contrary to the integrity of their office and the interests of the law.”
People are saying lawyers would be disbarred, and judges at various state court levels would be expelled, but SCOTUS has no such ethical rules, and given all the corruption coming out, it’s affecting Americans views of the courts and making the Court be viewed cynically. Meanwhile, “Chief Justice John Roberts is doubling down on his claim that the U.S. Supreme Court needs no ethics reforms in the wake of bombshell reports that at least two justices have engaged in what some consider corruption. Late Monday afternoon, in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats (below), the Chief Justice revealed the Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices he had sent as proof of his justices’ dedication to ethics, which was adopted unanimously, had been signed the very day he sent it to Chairman Dick Durbin: April 25. He also revealed that the last time Supreme Court justices had adopted a statement on ethics was 30 years ago, in 1993. While Supreme Court justices have a lifetime appointment, that would mean that only Justice Clarence Thomas had signed onto the code of ethics before last week…and the Chief Justice is facing public scrutiny after it was revealed his wife has made over $10 million by placing attorneys into law firms, some of which have business before the Supreme Court…On Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on ethics reform for the Supreme Court. Chairman Durbin had invited the Chief Justice to attend, or send a justice of his choosing in his [place], but Roberts refused. You can watch it live here.” “John Roberts, chief justice of the US supreme court, was brief in his missive to Democratic senator Dick Durbin, who chairs the Senate judiciary committee. Citing ‘separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence’, Roberts declined to appear before the committee to discuss disturbing recent revelations of ethics violations at the court…Congress is meant to exert checks on judicial power – to investigate or even impeach judges who abuse their office or interpret the law in ways that violate its spirit, and to affirm that the elected branches will hold more sway over policy than the appointed one.”
On May 4th, more ethical controversies were reported by Pro Publica regarding Justice Thomas:
“The Republican billionaire donor Harlan Crow for several years paid the pricey private school tuition of a great-nephew of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a new report reveals. Thomas had custody of the boy, Mark Martin, at the time. He never disclosed in official filings that Crow was paying the tuition, even though he disclosed another, much less generous payment of $5,000 for a fraction of Martin’s tuition by another friend, the report by ProPublica noted. Martin is now in his 30s. ‘Ethics law experts told ProPublica they believed Thomas was required by law to disclose the tuition payments because they appear to be a gift to him,’ ProPublica wrote.The same news outlet recently revealed how Crow paid for luxurious vacation trips over more than two decades for Thomas and his wife, Ginni, without the conservative justice reporting the gifts on annual financial disclosures. ProPublica also exposed that a Crow company bought properties in Savannah, Georgia, owned by Thomas’ family, including a home where the justice’s mother still lives rent-free. Thomas likewise had never disclosed, before the outlet’s reporting, either the trips gifted by the Texas real estate developer or the fact that he bought the properties.
“That failure by Thomas to do so had led to growing calls, including by Democratic members of Congress, for ethics reform at the Supreme Court, which unlike lower federal courts does not have a mandatory code of ethics. In a statement Thursday, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said, ‘With every new revelation in this case, it becomes clearer that Harlan Crow has been subsidizing an extravagant lifestyle that Justice Thomas and his family could not otherwise afford…This is a foul breach of ethics standards, which are already far too low when it comes to the Supreme Court,” said Wyden, who is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. ‘I gave Mr. Crow until May 8th to provide a full account of the gifts he provided to Justice Thomas’s family. Should he fail to comply, I will explore using other tools at the committee’s disposal to obtain this critical information.’
Martin is the son of Thomas’ nephew, who at one point when Martin was a boy was in prison on drug charges, ProPublica noted. Thomas took legal custody of Martin and became his legal guardian around January 1998, the report said. Martin lived with Thomas and his wife from the age of 6 to 19, Martin told ProPublica. The tuition at one of the two institutions Martin attended, a boarding school in Georgia, was more than $6,000 per month, according to ProPublica. Martin went there for his junior year of high school.
‘Harlan picked up the tab,’ Christopher Grimwood, a former administrator at that school, Hidden Lake Academy, told ProPublica. Martin spent the rest of his high school years at a military boarding school in Virginia, which Crow himself had attended, which charged between $25,000 and $30,000 annually, the report said. ‘Harlan said he was paying for the tuition at Randolph-Macon Academy as well,’ Grimwood told ProPublica. The outlet said Grimwood recalled Crow telling him that during a visit to the billionaire’s estate in the Adirondacks region of New York.
A friend of Thomas, the attorney Mark Paoletta, in a Twitter post on Thursday morning said Crow paid only for one year, Martin’s first, at Randolph-Macon, and then for his year at Hidden Lake Academy. Paoletta said Crow’s office confirmed – to whom Paoletta does not identify – ‘that he did not pay the great nephew’s tuition for any other year at Randolph Macon.’
In a statement to CNBC, Crow’s office said, ‘Harlan Crow has long been passionate about the importance of quality education and giving back to those less fortunate, especially at-risk youth.’ The statement added that Crow and his wife, Kathy, ‘have supported many young Americans through scholarship and other programs at a variety of schools, including his alma mater…It’s disappointing that those with partisan political interests would try to turn helping at-risk youth with tuition assistance into something nefarious or political,’ the statement concluded.
Paoletta, an attorney who served in the Trump administration, in his statement on Twitter wrote: ‘The Thomases have rarely spoken publicly about the remarkably generous efforts to help a child in need. They have always respected the privacy of this young man and his family…It is despicable that the press has dragged him into their effort to smear Justice Thomas,’ Paoletta wrote. Paoletta argued that Thomas was not legally obligated to disclose the tuition payments as a gift from Crow because the Ethics in Government Act does not include a great-nephew under its definition of ‘dependent child,’ but instead limits that to ‘son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter.’
But Mark Bennett, a former federal judge appointed by President Bill Clinton, told ProPublica, ‘You can’t be having secret financial arrangements.’ And Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, called Thomas’ failure to disclose the tuition and other gifts from Crow ‘way outside the norm.’ ‘This is way in excess of anything I’ve seen,’ Painter told ProPublica. ‘This amount of undisclosed gifts? You’d want to get them out of the government.’