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New York Times has a problem with Clarence Thomas' 'extreme closeness with his wife'

Sometimes, you come across a piece of writing that exists outside of space and time — a dispatch from some inaccessible astral plane in which its author resides. New York Times editorial board member Jesse Wegman recently produced just that sort of work.

Wegman castigates Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito for their utter lack of any “capacity for shame.” The news hook that inspired yet another rote missive aimed at hectoring one or both conservative justices into neutering themselves is, of course, the recent allegation that Alito’s wife hung the American flag upside down in conspicuous proximity to the events of January 6, 2021. But the flimsiness of that as the basis for an indictment of Alito’s jurisprudence must have proven unsatisfying to the author. Therefore, Wegman devotes much of his piece to rehashing dubious allegations against Thomas — some of which have to do with his marital relationship.

The need to establish some link between conduct that should, according to Wegman, compel Thomas to recuse himself from Trump-related cases and Alito’s alleged offense produced what I’m confident ranks as one of the most embarrassing sentences the Times has ever published: “Justice Thomas’s extreme closeness with his wife (he has described them as being melded ‘into one being’) raises similar doubts about his ability to be impartial.”

Get that? “Extreme closeness.” A degree of marital devotion well beyond that which Americans should tolerate in their Supreme Court justices. Thomas’s judgment cannot be trusted — indeed, he appears to be “breaking federal law” — by virtue of failing to maintain an arm’s-length relationship with his own wife. Their suspect “closeness” must be seen as the most observable sign of a nefarious plot to undermine the separation of powers.

Ensorcelled as he likely is by Ginny Thomas’s mesmeric powers, we have all the evidence we need to explain his “nakedly partisan opinions.” Apparently, the fact that Thomas wrote the Court’s opinion in a recent case upholding the controversial funding mechanism for Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — a decision that rankled conservatives — didn’t factor into Wegman’s analysis. Such is the author’s power of esotericism that he is either unaware of this argument-scuttling development or unmoved by it.

The sordid opportunism on display from critics of the current Court whenever even the most dubious appearance of a conflict arises among the conservative justices is sufficient to look upon these critics’ advocacy with skepticism. But that skepticism seems to be the exclusive province of conservatives. Wegman would have benefited from exposure to a little incredulity. Just enough to convince him that indicting a husband for retaining too much affection for his own spouse was blinkered in the extreme.

If the friends, family, and editors in Wegman’s life believe that this is a sound and rational argument for denuding the influence of the Court’s conservative justices, they have lost the plot and done their political allies a disservice.

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