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General News    H3'ed 1/25/11

Will Clarence Thomas Get Away With a Federal Crime?

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Author 13717
Message Roger Shuler
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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is amending financial-disclosure forms dating back more than 20 years, in an apparent effort to avoid prosecution for making false statements to the United States government.

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Hal Neilson, an FBI special agent in Oxford, Mississippi, undoubtedly wishes he had been given such an opportunity. He also probably wishes the mainstream press would try to make the kind of excuses for him that are being made for Clarence Thomas.

Neilson was indicted on January 14 for failing to disclose his financial interests and making false statements to a federal agency. According to a Mississippi-based law blog, Neilson was indicted under 18 U.S. Code 1001. That's the same law that Thomas clearly violated when he failed to disclose almost $700,000 of his wife's income over at least a five-year period.

Thomas, with the help of the Supreme Court's public-information office, has released information that indicates he is trying to amend his forms going back to 1989. That means the amount of undisclosed income probably is way more than the $686,589 that was originally reported  by the watchdog group Common Cause.

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While the machinery of America's highest court appears to be trying to help Clarence Thomas get away with a felony, no one seems to be offering Hal Neilson a chance to amend his statements. Neilson is charged with five counts of making false statements and faces up to 25 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

Do we have a two-tiered justice system, one for elites such as Clarence Thomas and one for everybody else? It sure looks that way. And we probably should not hold our breaths expecting the Obama administration to do anything about it. The U.S. Department of Justice does not have to let Thomas off lightly just because he is trying to cover up his crimes. But does anyone seriously think Attorney General Eric Holder, he of the "look forward, not backwards" doctrine on GOP crimes, is going to prosecute a Supreme Court justice who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush?

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
 
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