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Posts published in “Day: May 2, 2023”

Where are the rules

When I was just a young pup - a long, L-O-N-G - time ago, there were community and other assorted standards you could believe in.

Rock solid.  Steady.  Never changing.  You could count on ' em being just what they were and what they stood for.

Banks.  Insurance companies.  Certain retailers like J.C. Penney, Sears-Roebuck and Co., Woolworth's and "Monkey" Ward.  Our Congress in Washington.  They were what they said and they were to be trusted.

And, the courts.  Whether the local magistrate or the U.S. Supreme Court.  These were the standards of trust, honesty and law that were held out to you as people and institutions that would last forever.

So, I was taught.  So were you.

Now, 60 or 70 years later, here we are.  Most of those retailers are long gone.  Congress is filled with politicians more concerned with keeping their place at the public trough than representing constituents.  And the courts?  What the Hell happened?

Look at banks.  Feeding dollars into investor pockets while those same banks are going under - being driven into insolvency by the same people.  The real pain, of course, is being felt by depositors who likely will never see any sizeable recapture.

We've got SCOTUS justices "on-the-take."  Worldwide travel and "free" vacations in far-off places.  Real estate deals putting money in their pockets with not a word to the public.  The wife of one receiving  over $10-million in attorney "headhunting" fees.  With some of the "recruited" having much business before the court.

Much of this hush-hush SCOTUS business is because there is no defined code of conduct or other public requirement for such conduct or honest reporting of the activities of Justices.  Nearly all other jurists in all other courts have 'em.  Not SCOTUS.

But, suppose there was an effort by Congress to create restrictions and reporting responsibilities for the court.  Creating written rules for openness and transparency by those nine members.

The present Congress writing rules for honesty by others?  Congress being the author of rules for transparency and conduct?  Congress?  Our Congress?

Surely, you jest, Sir.

If not Congress to set the guidelines, then whom?  Who would we turn to for such an arduous task?

There may be one body that could be charged with such an undertaking.  The National Bar Association.  Possibly a "blue ribbon" committee composed of senior members, some jurists from lower courts and maybe a couple of folks from Congress with law backgrounds.  Possibly.

But, what do we do with the less-than-honest SCOTUS characters we've got?  Neil Gorsuch and his million-dollar-plus real estate dealings.  The wife of another who's made over $10-million "headhunting" in the legal field.  And Thomas.  And his wife.

Clarence's unreported activities - and in some areas questionable activities - are being disclosed nearly every day.  Like peeling an onion.  Just a bit more disclosure by investigative reporters as they dig around in banking, travel and real estate records.

Truly, Thomas is being shown to be someone who needs a code of conduct.  Rules.  Written rules enforced by others, either on the bench or in the legal business.   Or, just in the "honesty" business.

I keep wondering, given all the details of how Thomas has wallowed in free gifts so far, how much more is there to uncover?

The institutions we were raised to trust don't seem all that trustworthy, do they?  Like monumental buildings of success built on foundations of sand.

There's not much we public can do about banks and insurance companies failing.  Their operations are private. Without more strictures, placed on them by those who make up their membership, more will succumb to bad actors.

But, courts are public.  Maybe our most important edifices of public trust and honor.  Transparency and openness are absolute requirements in their conduct of our affairs in the legal system.

Without those qualities - without absolutely honest conduct by the occupants of our court system - you get a Clarence Thomas.  A man who seems to enjoy living lavishly with the cost being picked up by others.  Others who, someday, may have business before the court on which Justice Thomas sits.  With no requirement for his recusal.

Maybe if we did away with lifetime appointments.  Maybe if we developed codes of conduct with tough, legal teeth to put some "bite" in 'em.  Maybe if we required annual reporting of the previous year's activities - both public and private.

Thomas - and a couple of others on that same exalted bench - apparently can't be trusted to conduct themselves in accordance with what should be expected by their appointments.

We need some rules.  Some legal requirements for transparent conduct.  And we need 'em now!