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Tuesday, June 7, 2011
CNS Charges Kagan Conflict of Interest on Health Care, Ignores Thomas'

Over the past few months, has been trying to force Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to recuse herself from ruling on challenges to President Obama's health care reform law because she might have worked on the issue as Obama's solicitor general.

It hasn't been very successful so far at proving its case. In a March 29 article, editor Terry Jeffrey conceded that emails CNS obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request -- the only evidence it has so far -- do not show that Kagan "express[ed] an 'opinion concerning the merits' of the lawsuits filed against the health care law -- an act that would trigger one of the recusal standards" under federal law.

Jeffrey gave it another shot in a June 3 article, Jeffrey tried to reframe things by baselessly asserting that "When Kagan assigned [then-assistant Neal] Katyal to handle the expected litigation challenging President Obama’s health-care law she was a legal partisan in the matter." Jeffrey offered no new evidence to back up his claim, just a reinterpretation of the FOIA emails.

Meanwhile, there's a another conflict-of-interest issue brewing. Justice Clarence Thomas' wife, Ginni, is a right-wing activist who founded Liberty Central, a group that has attacked health care reform. An article on the Libery Central website originally credited to Ginni Thomas, then changed to a different byline and ultimately removed, attacked health care reform as unconstitutional.

Further, Thomas failed to state his wife's income on financial disclosure forms, despite the fact that she earned hundreds of thousands of dollarsover the last several years working for right-wing groups like Liberty Central and the Heritage Foundation. Thomas has since filed amended forms that list his wife's income.

Curiously, CNS has never addressed Clarence Thomas' apparent conflict-of-interest issue regarding his wife's activism -- let alone his failure to disclose his wife's income -- even though it's at least as major as the issue regarding Kagan. Jeffrey and crew, it seems, are simply protecting an ideological soul mate until it can figure out how to plausibly explain it away. But the fact that it has remained silent for so long indicates that no such defense exists.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:22 PM EDT

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