Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Should U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas be allowed to amend his financial-disclosure forms and get away with an apparent violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001?
Domestic diva Martha Stewart undoubtedly would answer with a resounding, "Hell, no!" So, too, would sports stars Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds (baseball), and Marion Jones (track and field). Stewart and the sports stars all ran afoul of 18 U.S.C. 1001, commonly known as "making false statements," and they either have paid a price, or almost certainly will.
So why does it look like Clarence Thomas is likely to get off with amending false statements? We will examine that question, but it should be noted that at least one major editorial voice is saying Thomas should not get off lightly. A watchdog group is calling for Thomas to step down, followed by a criminal investigation. And a lawyer source tells Legal Schnauzer that Thomas could face serious consequences in the legal profession, such as loss of his law license.
Thomas is not off the hook yet, and The St. Petersburg Times says that's the way it should be. In an editorial titled "Lack of Disclosure Should Be Pursued," the Times states:
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas must think it's nobody's business how his wife earns her money. But he is wrong. And his omission of his wife's substantial salary from federal financial disclosures between 2003 and 2009 can be read no other way than a purposeful flouting of the law.
Is the Times buying Thomas' explanation that he "misunderstood" directions on disclosure forms over a 20-year period? Not exactly. In fact, the Times echoes the words of Common Cause, the watchdog group that helped break the Thomas story: