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Justice Thomas Decides Against ‘Message From Heart’ to Group

<i> From a Times Staff Writer</i>

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas bowed out of a planned appearance Friday before a convention of Concerned Women for America, a conservative group that lobbies for causes such as prayer in the schools and an end to legal abortion.

The group, which strongly supported Thomas’ confirmation to the high court, earlier had advertised that the justice would appear at its meeting in nearby Alexandria, Va., and present a “challenging message from his heart.”

That announcement had raised eyebrows, since federal judges and Supreme Court justices normally avoid appearances before organizations that take public stands on controversial legal issues. The Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judges from speaking to “political organizations” or at “fund-raising events.”

Strictly speaking, the convention was neither political nor a fund raiser. Organizations such as the American Bar Assn. often take stands on issues before the high court but the justices routinely speak at its meetings.

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Nonetheless, Thomas had second thoughts about his appearance before the women’s group. Last week, his office announced that he would not make a speech at the meeting and on Tuesday court spokeswoman Toni House said he had decided not to show up at all.

Earlier this year, Thomas had drawn criticism for appearing at a dinner sponsored by a conservative think tank in Atlanta. Its members were charged $250 to attend a private reception with the justice.

Afterward, Thomas said he had been assured that the group would not use his appearance for fund-raising purposes.


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