Mark Ruffalo amplifies false information pushed by The Guardian

July 12, 2023

By Tim Worstall

The Guardian, a British newspaper that hopes to impact the U.S., has a story about how lawyers paid money, via Venmo, to the clerk of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. This is taken as evidence of corruption. It’s evidence that people who have been clerks to a Supreme Court Justice have a party now and again, and each pays their way. That is what Venmo is typically used for splitting bar tabs and dinner bills.

“Several lawyers who have had business before the supreme court, including one who successfully argued to end race-conscious admissions at universities, paid money to a top aide to Justice Clarence Thomas, according to the aide’s Venmo transactions. The payments appear to have been made in connection to Thomas’s 2019 Christmas party.”

“The payments to Rajan Vasisht, who served as Thomas’s aide from July 2019 to July 2021, seem to underscore the close ties between Thomas, who is embroiled in ethics scandals following a series of revelations about his relationship with a wealthy billionaire donor, and certain senior Washington lawyers who argue cases and have other business in front of the justice.”

This is one of those times when Brits, despite the same language, don’t understand the U.S. The U.K. Supreme Court (in fact, any level of the U.K. courts system) doesn’t have a system of clerkships. Therefore Brits don’t understand the American system of them. It’s a couple of years, maybe, of very hard work done by young and recently qualified lawyers. As with pretty much all such groups in American life – high school, college reunions, and so on – there will be parties between those who suffered together in future years.

And yes, at such parties, everyone does tend to pay their own freight. Just as anyone who has been to a high school or college reunion knows. That then explains Venmo. The Brits here are out of line, simply not understanding the culture they are looking at. They’ve made a story out of people paying for their own drinks at a reunion.

Well, OK. But then we’ve got people like Mark Ruffalo, who tweets this story with the tag #corruption. And who clearly thinks this is evidence of corruption by Clarence Thomas himself? Ruffalo has 8.2 million followers on Twitter; he’s an influential voice. But clearly, not an informed voice.

Or, what would be worse, because he is American and understands the culture of reunions, he decides that he’d like to use his fame to spread a false political point.

And that’s what’s so painful about this story. Not Brits getting it wrong; we proved we were aware of that in 1776. It’s people using their fame now to twist stories to political advantage. The progressives know that Clarence Thomas is a conservative. So, they’re using any story they can to undermine his position, to argue for impeachment. The current court is conservative, and anything will do to undermine that stance.

Even a famous actor is using his fame to spread scandal about corruption over folk paying their own way to a reunion party.

It’s that use of fame to spread the calumny that’s so wrong.


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