Ocasio-Cortez unveils articles of impeachment against Alito, Thomas

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday (July 10) introduced articles of impeachment against Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, citing “widely documented financial and personal entanglements” that have sparked a full-blown ethics crisis on the nation’s highest judicial body.

“The unchecked corruption crisis on the Supreme Court has now spiraled into a constitutional crisis threatening American democracy writ large,” Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said in a statement, arguing that their refusal to recuse from key cases in which they had glaring financial and personal conflicts of interest “constitutes a grave threat to American rule of law, the integrity of our democracy, and one of the clearest cases for which the tool of impeachment was designed.”

The impeachment articles against Thomas accuse the justice of “failure to disclose financial income, gifts and reimbursements, property interests, liabilities, and transactions, among other information,” as well as refusal to recuse from matters concerning his spouse’s legal and financial interest in cases before the court.

The Alito articles accuse the justice of “refusal to recuse from cases in which he had a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party in cases before the court” and “failure to disclose financial income, gifts and reimbursements, property interests, liabilities, and transactions, among other information.”

“Justice Thomas and Alito’s repeated failure over decades to disclose that they received millions of dollars in gifts from individuals with business before the court is explicitly against the law,” said the New York Democrat. “And their refusal to recuse from the specific matters and cases before the court in which their benefactors and spouses are implicated represents nothing less than a constitutional crisis. These failures alone would amount to a deep transgression worthy of standard removal in any lower court, and would disqualify any nominee to the highest court from confirmation in the first place.”

Ocasio-Cortez argued that “Congress has a legal, moral, and democratic obligation to impeach,” a statement that reflects widespread alarm over the Supreme Court’s ruling last week that current and former U.S. presidents are entitled to sweeping immunity for actions that fall within the scope of their official capacities.

Both Thomas and Alito faced—and rejected—calls to recuse from the case, titled Trump v. United States.

Demands for Alito’s recusal came in the wake of news that two flags associated with the January 6, 2021 insurrection were flown at his family’s properties in Virginia and New Jersey. Alito blamed his wife for the flags and dismissed calls to step away from the case as baseless.

Thomas, for his part, faced calls to recuse due to his wife’s role in efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.

Additionally, Alito and Thomas have been the focus of recent ProPublicareporting detailing the extent to which both justices have accepted vacations and other undisclosed gifts from right-wing billionaires with interests before the court.

In response to the corruption crisis, the Supreme Court late last year unveiled an ethics code with no enforcement mechanisms—further showing to critics that the justices could not be trusted to police themselves.

“Given the court’s demonstrated inability to preserve its own legitimate conduct,” Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday, “it is incumbent upon Congress to contain the threat this poses to our democracy and the hundreds of millions of Americans harmed by the crisis of corruption unfurling within the court.”

Only one Supreme Court justice has been successfully impeached in U.S. history, and Ocasio-Cortez’s articles have no chance of getting through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Advocates nevertheless celebrated the impeachment effort as a necessary step toward reining in the high court.

“The framers of our Constitution called on Congress specifically to hold judicial officers, including Supreme Court justices, accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors that compromise the integrity of the court,” Courtney Hostetler, legal director at Free Speech For People, said in a statement. “We’re proud to have worked with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office to help draft these articles and further the process of restoring the Supreme Court to a nonpartisan branch of the federal government.”

From Common Dreams.
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