This dubious syndicate of wealthy Americans, named after “the Gilded Age author whose rags-to-riches novels represented an aspirational version of Justice Thomas’ own bootstraps origin story,” has handed out around $245 million in college scholarships to approximately 35,000 students. It doesn’t stop there, I’m afraid. The Times reports that Thomas — and you may want to sit down for this — was “meeting with and mentoring the recipients of millions of dollars a year in Horatio Alger college scholarships, many of whom come from backgrounds that mirror his own.”
Now, I don’t even feign to grasp the journalistic virtuosity needed to be a New York Times reporter, but my amateur guess is that the Horatio Alger Association really blew Thomas’ cover when publicly giving him an award and then listing his, and every members’, name on its website. As Star Chambers go, this has to be one of the sloppiest.
Indeed, the piece begins with a grainy picture of Thomas, almost always depicted as a puppet, at an event receiving an award from three rich white dudes. The Horatio Alger Association, the subhead tells us, “brought the justice access to wealthy members and unreported V.I.P. treatment,” and in turn, Thomas “offered another kind of access.”
Another kind of access? The Times wants you to imagine a gaggle of QAnoners sneaking into SCOTUS chambers and editing majority opinions, but Thomas’ big favor to these alleged benefactors is hosting a small ceremony for the winners of the Horatio Alger award for charitable giving at the Supreme Court. You can read all about it right there on the website, along with the names of the award winners, who are largely apolitical former CEOs and generous donors to numerous charities.
One of the keys to convincing credulous leftists that a conspiracy is afoot is to frame the Horatio Alger Association as a “conservative” cabal where corrupt schemes to steal democracy are hatched. And while the Horatio Alger Association has boasted members such as Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, it has also welcomed Hank Aaron, Maya Angelou, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Brokaw, Carol Burnett, George Foreman, Leo DiCaprio, Dr. J, Wayne Gretzky, and Oprah Winfrey, among scores of other household names. So, not exactly the John Birch Society. Not even the Federalist Society.
Yet, the Times points out that the group also “included major donors to conservative causes with broad policy and political interests and much at stake in Supreme Court decisions, even if they were not directly involved in the cases.” (Irritated italics mine.)
What this really means is that the Times combed through the records of every member of the Horatio Alger Association — and ex-wives and brothers-in-law and so on — to investigate if they, or any company they invested in, had even a tenuous connection to a case that found its way in front of the Supreme Court. Apparently, they couldn’t ferret out one. This didn’t stop some unethical NYT editor from moving forward with a story that was almost surely pitched to them by an anti-court activist group.
Is it now considered corrupt for justices to join philanthropic efforts because wealthy donors to those causes might have a stake — not directly, mind you — in the court’s decisions? That would be a fascinating new standard. Do benefactors of the charitable organizations that Elena Kagan supports not have a stake in Supreme Court decisions? Because it seems to me that while most wealthy people are affected by commerce cases, they are also generally the only ones who can afford to give millions to charitable organizations.
It takes a special, perverse talent to depict membership to a philanthropic organization as a devious venture, but the Times feigns to do so in 4,000-plus words of bogus journalism. And, as transparently nonsensical as the hit pieces from ProPublica and Politico were, the Times’ effort makes them seem Pulitzer-worthy. The objective is not to enlighten, of course, but to destroy trust in the Supreme Court, the least partisan branch of our government.
What the left has not done is provide a single example — not for Thomas or Alito or Gorsuch — in which a justice has strayed from his judicial philosophy to help anyone, much less himself. Being an originalist or a “conservative” on the court is the real crime. The rest just needs to be figured out.