Legal ethicists have raised concerns about the latest political move by Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, claiming that her role as "an ambassador to the Tea Party movement" could affect her husband's ability to remain objective.
According to Politico.com, Virginia Thomas recently founded a lobbying firm called Liberty Consulting. The group, which promotes limited government, free enterprise and other conservative causes, pledges to use "experience and connections" to help clients with their efforts and donation strategies. The news provider reported that Virginia Thomas has already met with nearly half of the 99 GOP freshmen in Congress.
Some legal experts believe that her new role creates a conflict of interest since her husband is expected to rule on hotly-debated issues such as healthcare and campaign finance regulation.
Justice Thomas "should not be sitting on a case or reviewing a statute that his wife has lobbied for," Monroe H. Freedman, a Hofstra Law School professor, told The New York Times. "If the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, that creates a perception problem."
Last week, the watchdog group ProtectOurElections.org called for a criminal investigation of Justice Thomas for failing to disclose his wife's income on past financial reports. The organization alleged that the judge omitted his spousal income from as far back as 1989 — including approximately $686,000 from conservative think-tank The Heritage Foundation — which, if revealed, could have led to his disqualification from hearing certain cases that may have benefited his wife.