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'Zero Evidence' to Support Latest Attacks on Justice Clarence Thomas

Paoletta is seeking to dispel false narratives about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Former Chief Oversight Counsel Mark Paoletta is slamming recent reports on Justice Clarence Thomas claiming that he had pressed lawmakers for a higher salary, stating that there was “zero evidence” to the allegations.

Paoletta posted to X (formerly known as Twitter) on Dec. 20 calling out a New York Times article claiming that based on a 24-year-old memo, Thomas had pressured lawmakers early in his tenure for a higher salary - even threatening to resign if his needs weren’t met. However, Paoletta stated that there was not only “zero evidence” within the claims, but that he had never heard Thomas “complain” or “threaten to resign” since knowing him.  

The memo from 2000, also previously reported by ProPublica, was allegedly written by top federal courts system official L. Ralph Mecham, reportedly discussing the financial pressure Thomas had at the time, according to NYT. Mecham allegedly wrote that the issue of pay was raised to Florida Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns by Thomas, the outlet reported.  

Thomas allegedly stated that “one or more justices will soon leave,” emphasizing that SCOTUS had been dissatisfied with their pay, NYT reported. Due to the issue, Stearns’ office reportedly asked for help from a lobbying group affiliated with the Podesta brothers, pushing to draft a bill raising the justices’ pay, according to the outlet. 

Paoletta, however, pushed back against the allegations from both the NYT and ProPublica reports, highlighting that their only source had been from Stearns. The former Chief Oversight Counsel had noted that even Stearns never claimed “Thomas was talking about his own pay,” highlighting that the representative had “inferred it” on his own judgment. 

“True to form in writing with agenda, @ProPublica claims Thomas was complaining about his pay & threatening to resign. This is all false. In fact, Thomas said in 1991 he would serve for 43 years. He’s at 32 years. Buckle up haters, you have at least 11 more years.”

Both the NYT and ProPublica had cited an additional memo from Stearns during the time of the allegations as supportive evidence. In the letter to Thomas, obtained by ProPublica, Stearns allegedly vowed to examine their pay, stating that he intended “to look into a bill to raise the salaries of members of the Supreme Court,” according to ProPublica.” The representative additionally stated that “it is worth a lot to Americans to have the Constitution properly interpreted,” the outlet reported.

“His importance as a conservative was paramount,” Stearns told ProPublica during a recent interview. “We wanted to make sure he felt comfortable in his job and he was being paid properly.”

In addition to speaking out, Paoletta highlighted a statement from Thomas’ first clerk, Ambassador Chris Landau, echoing Paoletta's pushback against the outlet's claims.

Landau stated that during the 35-year of knowing Thomas, he did not “remember him ever complaining about his own pay or suggesting that he might resign from the Supreme Court as a result of his pay.” The former Thomas clerk emphasized that during the time of the memo, “concerns” over the “pay gap” had become a “major public policy issue,” with Chief Justice John Roberts even declaring it as a “constitutional crisis.” 

“To add some context here, judicial pay was a major public policy issue during the 1990s and 2000s. In his 2006 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, Chief Justice John Roberts declared that “the issue has been ignored far too long and has now reached the level of a constitutional crisis,” as a historic pay gap between the private and public sectors threatened to erode the quality of the federal judiciary,” Landau stated. 

“In other words, many people shared concerns regarding the judicial pay in the 1990s and 2000, and those concerns were well founded. But any attempt to imply that Justice Thomas ever complained about his own personal pay, or entertained the notion of resigning from the Supreme Court as a result of the pay, is baseless.”

Paoletta has known Thomas for nearly 35-years, publishing a book about Thomas in 2022 called “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words.” The former chief oversight counsel co-wrote the book based on a documentary about Thomas that details interviews from 2018 and 2019, in which the justice discusses his life, according to Paoletta’s site.   


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