The relationship between Clarence and Ginni Thomas and two prominent ultra conservative billionaires has been in the spotlight recently. Most conservatives have brushed it off either deflecting to a false equivalency with Justice Sotomayor or declaring that none of those gifts and cash (which others would call bribes) had any influence on Thomas or his decisions. It was just “friends helping friends” and nothing more.

But those people might not be so dismissive now as it can be shown how Thomas literally did a 180 degree flip on a key issue that the billionaire “buddies” just so happen to have a keen interest in.

At issue is a long precedent commonly referred to as the “Chevron Doctrine.” It deals with the interpretations of government regulations. In short, it says that a government agency has the final say in interpreting regulations when things are considered ambiguous or need some sort of clarity. It stipulates that the executive branch — not the federal courts — has the power to interpret laws passed by Congress in certain circumstances.

Thomas upheld that precedent when a case came up about it in 2005. His stance, which was in the majority in the case in question, specifically referred to the Chevron precedent in his penned opinion.

The case, National Cable & Telecommunications Association v. Brand X Internet Services, addressed a federal agency’s ability to regulate cable companies under a 1934 law.

The original Chevron case was one that took place during the Reagan administration and pitted the oil company against environmentalists. Chevron won the case, much to the ire of environmentalists. At the time, the case was considered a big win for conservatives. In the 2005 case, it was also considered a win for pro business conservatives.

But in a period spanning less than three months in the spring of 2015, Justice Thomas issued five concurring or dissenting opinions that contradicted his 2005 stance. Now, Thomas was against the Chevron Doctrine when it didn’t serve business. Instead of the government agency weakening regulations to favor business, the agencies were interpreting the regulations in ways that some businesses didn’t like.

Specifically, at least one of those flip-flops concerned the EPA, the agency that was supposedly protected by the Chevron Doctrine — at least when it served big business.

The flip-flop came in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency, a 2015 case challenging the EPA’s ability to regulate power plants under the Clean Air Act. Thomas joined the conservative majority, ruling that the EPA had overstepped its authority, and wrote his own concurrence arguing that the  Chevron deference unconstitutionally delegated power from the judiciary to the executive branch.

What changed for Clarence and Ginni Thomas?

As Lancaster Courier and others have reported, Clarence and Ginni Thomas were the beneficiaries of cash and gifts from two billionaires who wanted the Chevron precedent overturned. Clarence and Ginni were getting flown and cruised all over the world by billionaire Harlan Crow. Crow also bought his mother’s house, then made many improvements and to this day allows her to live there rent free. He has also paid for Thomas’s grandnephew’s (Thomas is his legal guardian) private school education.

Meanwhile, billionaire Leonard Leo has paid Thomas hundreds of thousands of dollars filtered through an organization run by former Trump staffer, Kellyanne Conway. Leo specifically told Conway to keep Ginni Thomas’s name off of any of the payments.

The next move was to stack the court and put it in a position to put the Chevron Doctrine on the trash heap of judicial history.

As President Donald Trump’s judicial adviser, Leo helped select three of the court’s six conservative justices — while his dark money network simultaneously spent tens of millions to boost their confirmation campaigns. Harlan Crow was also involved in the various conservative groups that were taking aim at the doctrine.

Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh were both known opponents of the doctrine. The third, Justice Comey Barrett was asked about the precedent in her confirmation hearings but she refused to give an answer because it was “hypothetical.”

That leads us to the actual case, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, which deals with a Commerce Department rule that stipulates how fishery inspectors are paid. But the substantive issue in the case is whether the Supreme Court should overturn Chevron — as a slew of Leo-backed groups is lobbying the court to do.

The publication, The Lever News reports how Crow and Leo are behind this case:

The New Civil Liberties Alliance, which received $1 million in 2020 from Leo’s network, filed a brief supporting Loper Bright Enterprises. Leo’s group additionally contributed $350,000 in 2020 and again in 2021 to the Independent Women’s Forum. That organization’s affiliate, the Independent Women’s Law Center, filed its own supportive brief in the case.

Leo’s network donated $1 million between 2020 and 2021 to Advancing American Freedom, a nonprofit led by former Vice President Mike Pence that submitted a brief in Loper Bright Enterprises.

The Leo network has been the longtime top financier of the Republican Attorneys General Association, which elects GOP attorneys general. In December, 18 Republican attorneys general filed a brief in Loper Bright Enterprises supporting the petitioners.

The Manhattan Institute, where Crow’s wife is on the board, also filed an amicus brief asking the court to hear the case designed to overturn Chevron.

Thomas and his wife need to be investigated ASAP. This not only appears to be corruption, but pretty flagrant and arrogant corruption.