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Friendship of Justice and Magnate Puts Focus on Ethics

Publication Date: 
June 18, 2011
Source: 
The New York Times
Author: 
Mike McIntire

Professor Deborah Rhode is quoted by Mike McIntire of the New York Times on the need for stricter ethics rules for Supreme Court justices.

Clarence Thomas was here promoting his memoir a few years ago when he bumped into Algernon Varn, whose grandfather once ran a seafood cannery that employed Justice Thomas’s mother as a crab picker.

Algernon Varn, whose grandfather once ran a seafood cannery where Justice Clarence Thomas's mother worked, on the site of the old cannery. Mr. Varn said Justice Thomas put him in touch with a buyer to restore the property and build a museum.

Mr. Varn lived at the old cannery site, a collection of crumbling buildings on a salt marsh just down the road from a sign heralding this remote coastal community outside Savannah as Justice Thomas’s birthplace. The justice asked about plans for the property, and Mr. Varn said he hoped it could be preserved.

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"Deborah L. Rhode, a Stanford University law professor who has called for stricter ethics rules for Supreme Court justices, said Justice Thomas “should not be directly involved in fund-raising activities, no matter how worthy they are or whether he’s being centrally honored by the museum.”