Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress is willing to ask what The New York Times might have maybe been hinting at: Was Justice Clarence Thomas one of the unnamed sources who told CBS reporter Jan Crawford that Chief Justice John Roberts switched his vote on the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate?
As evidence, Millhiser points to two paragraphs buried deep in a Times story by Adam Liptak:
But the possibility that conservatives had victory within reach only to lose it seemed to infuriate some of them. The CBS News report, attributed to two sources with “specific knowledge of the deliberations,” appeared to give voice to the frustrations of people associated with the court’s conservative wing. It was written by Jan Crawford, whose 2007 book, “Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court,” was warmly received by conservatives.
In a 2009 interview on C-Span, Justice Thomas singled her out as a favorite reporter. “There are wonderful people out here who do a good job — do a fantastic job — like Jan Greenburg,” Justice Thomas said, referring to Ms. Crawford by her married name at the time.
Millhiser’s post looks at Crawford’s history of defending Thomas, but admits it’s the evidence is a bit circumstantial:
None of this, of course, proves conclusively that Thomas is one of Crawford’s two sources. But it does demonstrate that the two of them have a strong working relationship based on mutual admiration for each other. If Thomas were looking to leak confidential information to a member of the Supreme Court press, it is likely that he would choose the one reporter he has publicly revealed to be his favorite. The fact that that reporter is a well-regarded conservative journalist who also works for a high profile outlet is gravy.
It is a bit intriguing that Liptak included that praise from Thomas in a story that focuses on Roberts’ decision and otherwise has very little to do with Thomas. It stands out as odd and a bit suggestive.
More Reason on Justice Thomas here.