Conflict of Interest

Justice Thomas Boosted Wife's Cause

Clarence Thomas, one of the most conservative Supreme Court justices, may soon be outdone by his wife. Virginia Thomas is the founder of a new nonprofit called Liberty Central, a group dedicated to drumming up conservative support and opposing the “tyranny” of Obama’s administration. Thomas’ organization—which she hopes “will be bigger than the Tea Party”—is funded by anonymous donors, and after her husband’s vote in a pivotal case helped clear the way for increased political activism by corporations and unions, some are raising eyebrows at the possible conflict of interest. “It’s shocking that you would have a Supreme Court justice sitting on a case that might implicate in a very fundamental way the interests of someone who might have contributed to his wife’s organization,” says Deborah L. Rhode, a law professor at Stanford.