April 17, 2024

In justifying Super Bowl ring for Clarence Thomas, Jerry Jones misses the mark

This is a political article.

But while it is about politics, it takes no political point of view. These concepts apply regardless of affiliation or inclination. Red or blue. Republican or Democrat. Conservative or liberal. Tory or Whig.

There are rules that apply to judges. Rules about avoiding impropriety and the appearance of impropriety. Those rules should be honored and respected by every judge, at every level.

The Supreme Court recently has been embroiled in controversy regarding lavish benefits reportedly bestowed on longtime Justice Clarence Thomas. Recently, the New York Times reported that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once gave Thomas a Super Bowl ring.

On Tuesday, Jones was asked about the kind of gift that typically isn’t handed out by NFL owners — unless guys like Vladimir Putin walk away with one.

“He did the awarding of the rings for us that year,” Jones explained at his press conference to launch Oxnard training camp, via Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “And, of course, it was always so special that when he had his hearing when he was being evaluated about being a Supreme Court Justice he talked about his affection for the Cowboys.

“I know he was inspirational to our team. He would speak to us when we went to Washington. And so it was an honor for him to give the rings out that year and for me to award him one.”

Jones denied giving other Super Bowl rings to governmental officials or politicians. Then Jones tried to say Thomas isn’t a politician.

“He’s a Supreme Court justice,” Jones said. “I think, I don’t know if I go as far as a politician.”

Supreme Court Justices are indeed politicians. They don’t land in those jobs without being politically active and/or politically connected. And, regardless of whether they were engaged in active partisan politics before being confirmed to the bench, they must be unbiased — and they must appear to be unbiased.

That’s where Jones also got it wrong. Asked whether his unique and expensive gift to Thomas created a conflict of interest and/or assisted Jones in any business he might have before the Supreme Court, Jones tried to downplay such obvious complications.

“Well, let’s put it like this,” Jones said. “I stay before the Supreme Court. They make decisions for America. We all stay before the Supreme Court by it’s makeup. It does a pretty good job representing us all.”

That’s a flimsy and hollow response. Thomas has political viewpoints that, when put in action, tend to assist the ultra-wealthy and mega-powerful, one decision at a time. That is not opinion; it is a fact.

Jones, by sucking up to Thomas, is part of the apparatus that ensures Thomas will keep the favorable decisions coming, that he won’t realize at some point that there is no higher court appointment to seek and that he could pull an Earl Warren and dramatically shift the political leanings that got him the job.

Even if there’s never a case involving Jones before the Supreme Court, it’s critically important for Jones and those with his wealth and power for Thomas to stay the course. And to continue generating decisions and opinions that are favorable to Jones and the rest of the superyacht set.

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