In late 2009, Thomas founded the political advocacy group Liberty Central, which would later become a fierce player in the opposition to health care form. Detractors pointed out that Liberty Central was a potential vehicle for people with interests before the Supreme Court to make anonymous donations that might influence her husband.Justice Thomas will almost certainly deal with any conflicts arising out of his wife's role in Groundswell the way he did in relation to those arising out of Liberty Central: ignore them, and then vote on cases on which she was paid to advocate.
The group was formed with a $500,000 anonymous donation that came as the Supreme Court was considering Citizens United, a case that ultimately resulted in loosening the restrictions on corporate giving to political campaigns. The anonymous donor was later revealed to be Harlan Crow, the Texas real estate developer. Crow was also a friend of Clarence Thomas', and he was later linked to a scandal involving the justice's failure to publicly disclose gifts from the developer and trips aboard his private jet. (It didn't help that Justice Thomas had also failed to include his wife's $150,000 annual salary from Liberty Central on his financial disclosure forms, which he later had to amend.)
The recent revelations about Thomas' role in Groundswell will no doubt resurrect the debate over whether her advocacy causes conflicts for her husband. Gun safety, immigration, voting rights and voter ID, environmental concerns—all of these issues have been covered by Groundswell, and all of them are subjects that regularly come before the Supreme Court.
Suddenly Abe Fortas is looking better, hmm?