That’s also why the LA Times goes out of its way to find “legal ethicists” who question the wisdom of a Supreme Court Justice’s wife being so public in her opposition to something that may come before her husband.
It may damage the Court’s prestige, or some claptrap.
The Supreme Court does not operate on prestige. It has no need of prestige. The opinion of the People, of Congress, the President, the United Nations, or some foreign potentate of our Supreme Court are of no consequence whatever to its function.
And if the Court can have its reputation harmed by one woman speaking out and demanding that the Constitution be followed, then it’s not much of an institution.
Justice Thomas’ wife says healthcare law is unconstitutional
Virginia Thomas is working to repeal the law through Liberty Central, a conservative group she founded. Her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, could provide a key vote to strike down the law.
A longtime conservative activist in Washington, Virginia Thomas has recently raised her profile as a frequent speaker at “tea party” rallies and conservative conferences as she promotes her new online venture.
Her engagement in partisan politics through Liberty Central is unprecedented for a spouse of a Supreme Court justice, legal scholars say. Her group is funded by donors whose identities are not publicly disclosed, fueling concerns that corporate donors could secretly fund Liberty Central in order to gain favor with her husband.
Virginia Thomas did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. In the past, she has described her work as separate from her husband’s and passionately defended her right to express her opinions, a point legal ethics expert do not dispute.
“As a matter of formal legal ethics, a spouse’s opinion on a constitutional issue, even if widely disseminated, does not require a judge’s disqualification,” said Northwestern University law professor Steven Lubet. “Her wisdom or judgment is not something I can comment on.”
However, Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics professor at New York University, said Virginia Thomas’ advocacy did threaten to tarnish the court’s appearance of nonpartisanship.
“I would have hoped for greater self-restraint out of respect for the court. She is hurting the institution,” he said. “But that’s just my concern. The rules don’t stop her. Mrs. Thomas has a 1st Amendment right to take a prominent public position on any legal or political issue she chooses. The conflict and recusal rules govern Justice Thomas, not his wife.”