IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Clarence Thomas' actions 'potentially criminal,' Sen. Blumenthal says

The Democratic senator sounds prepared to take action, including by pushing for subpoenas, amid the Supreme Court's ongoing ethical collapse.


By now, the Senate Judiciary Committee has seen that taking a soft approach to the Supreme Court's ethics crisis won't work. The committee didn't even invite testimony from the man at the center of the crisis, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and Chief Justice John Roberts just pathetically declined to testify on the subject in response to the committee's invitation.

Committee Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., scheduled an ethics hearing for Tuesday, May 2. But it's unclear what will come of it, or whether the committee will use whatever muscle it has to shed real light on the court's ethical failings or impose meaningful solutions on a reluctant court.

Yet, strong words on the show Wednesday from one of Durbin's committee colleagues, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., suggest there's a desire from at least some corners of the committee to be more aggressive. Blumenthal told Nicolle that the committee should consider subpoenas not only for justices but for other potential evidence and witnesses, including Harlan Crow, the GOP megadonor whose years of lavish gifts to Thomas weren't disclosed by the justice.

Indeed, Blumenthal called Thomas’ failure to disclose gifts “potentially criminal” and said the Justice Department should investigate as well. He said Thomas created the appearance that the Supreme Court is "open to the highest bidder."

Blumenthal further said that impeachment should be on the table for Thomas, though he acknowledged that’s unlikely to happen in the Republican-controlled House, where such proceedings would originate.

Nonetheless, it's significant that the senator sounds prepared to use whatever power he has to uncover facts and take action. It's unclear, however, what sway that desire has with the committee. And keep in mind, the committee's power remains weakened in the absence of Dianne Feinstein, whose membership on the committee gives Democrats the majority.