Democrats want Justice Thomas probe as health law decision looms

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Twenty House Democrats are calling for a judicial ethics inquiry into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas just as the High Court is set to issue a ruling on the health care law that could make or break President Obamahis re-election.

On Thursday, lawmakers asked the American Judicial Conference to formally ask the Justice Department to investigate Thomasit is failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars his wife received from groups seeking the repeal of the Health Care Act. Their letter comes after 75 House Democrats in February asked Thomas to recuse himself from the case following reports that hed failed to report his wife Virginiaincome since joining the bench in 1991.

{mosades}Due to the simplicity of the disclosure requirements, with Justice Thomasit is high level of legal training and experience, it is reasonable to infer that his failure to disclose his wifeit is income for two decades was voluntary, and the Judicial Conference has a non-discretionary duty to refer this matter to the Department of Justice,

wrote the Democrats in the letter, led by Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY), the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee.

The letter comes just a day after the Obama administration and 26 states challenged Democrats The Health Care Reform Act has asked the Supreme Court to take up the case, while ensuring the High Court will deliver a decision by next summer.

Many legal experts believe the court will end up with a 5-4 split decision on the law – with Judge Anthony Kennedy fulfilling his usual swing-voting role – so the pressure on the justices to recuse themselves should only ‘increase. Republicans for their part focused their attacks on Judge Elena Kagan, who was the Obama administrations top advocate when drafting health law.

I think Kagan, who was Solicitor General at the time all of this was done, should probably recuse himself,Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Fox News in February.

Conservative groups have also been raise concerns that Kagan might have been involved in shaping the administrations legal defense for a law itShe is now expected to speak out on what she flatly denied during her Senate confirmation. In particular, they point to an email exchange between Kagan and her subordinate Neal Katyal that suggests she may have gotten involved without leaving a paper trail. The emails were obtained by CNSNews.com as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.

Referring to a scheduled meeting on healthcare litigation, Katyal emailed Kagan: I think you should go, right? I will, no matter what, but I believe this is a dispute of singular importance.

Whatis your phone number? Kagan asked, ending the chain of emails.

Democrats are also increasing the pressure on Thomas.

Their letter raises concerns not only with Virginia Thomasit is income, but also with a recent New York Times report which concluded that Judge Thomas could have benefited from the use of a private yacht and plane and did not disclose the trip as a gift or travel reimbursement. And while the House Democrats’ letter does nott mention the Health Act, a press release from SlaughterThe s office makes it clear that the ongoing litigation is on their minds.

Throughout his tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas ticked a box labeled nothing on his annual financial disclosure statements, indicating that his wife had received no income, despite the fact that his wife had in fact earned almost $700,000 from the Legacy Foundation from 2003 to 2007 alone, Slaughterthe office said in the press release. The Heritage Foundation was a prominent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, an issue that is expected to be considered by the Supreme Court in the near future.

The letterCo-signers include: Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (Ill.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), Mike Honda (Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Christopher Murphy (Conn.), John Garamendi (Calif.), Pete Stark (California), Raul Grijalva (Arizona), John Olver (Mass.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Jackie Speier (California), Paul Tonko (NY), Bob Filner (California) , Peter Welch (Vt.), John Conyers (Mich.), Keith Ellison (Minn.), Anna Eshoo (California) and Ed Perlmutter (Colo.).

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