Well, they’ve got him now. Or have they?
“Justice Clarence Thomas said he was advised he didn’t have to disclose private jet flights and luxury vacations paid for by billionaire Harlan Crow because … Crow ‘did not have business before the court,’” Bloomberg reported Monday. “But in at least one case, Crow did.”
Bloomberg’s Zoe Tillman, “with assistance by Greg Stohr,” “reviewed dozens of state and federal cases involving companies that the Crow family has owned or had a financial stake in since Thomas’ 1991 confirmation.” The duo’s digging was certainly exhaustive, and the proof is that what they turned up was utterly trivial—one case the high court didn’t hear, in which a litigant had a family connection to Mr. Crow.
Bloomberg’s headline reads “Clarence Thomas’s Billionaire Friend Did Have Business Before the Supreme Court.” The story amounts to nothing, but it’s another chance to fling mud at Justice Thomas in the hope that something sticks.
But her analysis is laughable. As Mr. Swaim reported, Mr. Crow describes himself as “a moderate Republican” and “moderately pro-choice—a first-trimester guy” and says of the justice: “Do I influence him? Hell no. I respect his judgment about those things way more than mine.”
Justice Thomas appears impervious to influence and always has. He is, in the words of Justice Samuel Alito, “a purist and an important voice”—and often a soloist, whose lone concurring opinions or (less often these days) dissents argue for adhering to the original meaning of the Constitution even if that requires uprooting precedents that have become deeply established in law and culture.
Universities like Harvard are incredibly successful at netting major funding that rewards highly specialised, ‘hot’ research. This allows for laser-like focus within any given field, and it can reap many investigative benefits. But, as late American psychologist Scott Lilienfeld warned, the prevailing grant culture also creates disincentives for contrary views, and rewards pre-ordained ‘correct’ opinions. Worse still, a self-interested eagerness to ‘oversell’ one’s ideas in grant bids leads to a great deal of false research findings being published.
Repressing diversity of thought is a calamity for science. Thanks to the race for the research bucks, dubious research practices have become rampant, and investigators do a poor job of citing research that discredits their pet theories.
But while Fauci is narrowly correct about each of these things, he’s also woefully understating the role that he played in creating the mess. From the start, Fauci pushed for the Trump administration to tell states to lock down. “No bars, no restaurants, no nothing. Only essential services. When you get a place like New York or Washington or California, you have got to ratchet it up,” he told Science magazine in an interview in mid-March 2020.
Fauci also pushed back against evidence that lockdowns were causing unintended (though totally predictable) problems. A group of epidemiologists and other public health experts in October 2020 signed The Great Barrington Declaration, which called for a focus on protecting the vulnerable and letting everyone else resume normal life. Soon after it was published, Fauci denounced the document as “nonsense and very dangerous.”
And though it may not have affected the public policy response to the pandemic, Fauci also deserves blame for his disassembling about the usefulness of masks and the origins of the pandemic. In the early days of COVID, he advised against the wearing of masks in public places, only to later admit that he’d been less than truthful. Later still, he advocated for double-masking, despite a lack of any evidence for the effectiveness of that strategy.
Censorship is speech hate.