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Clarence Thomas received a Super Bowl ring from Jerry Jones

When it comes to legal controversies, the NFL likes to resolve them in-house, through a secret, rigged, kangaroo court of compelled arbitration controlled by the Commissioner. Since the system isn’t foolproof, it’s wise to have influence within the external court system.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones possibly has cultivated some.

In a lengthy look at the manner in which Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas entered a circle of wealth and power, the New York Times makes mention of the relationship between Thomas, Jones, and the Cowboys.

As chairman of the EEOC, Thomas appeared in a PSA from the Cowboys regarding equal employment opportunity. Per the report, Thomas then struck up a friendship with Jones.

Thomas, according to the Times, has flown on Jones’s private jet, attended training camp practices, and when the team played in Washington sat in Jones’s private suite. The article also states bluntly and matter-of-factly that Jones gave Thomas a Super Bowl ring.

Thomas also had a friendship with Wayne Huizenga, the late owner of the Dolphins. According to the Times, Thomas in the late 2000s made annual visits to South Florida to assist Huizenga in distributing scholarships. Sometimes, Thomas met with the team. At least once, according to the report, Thomas flew in a Dolphins jet. Also, Thomas was whisked from the Dolphins’ practice field in a helicopter on at least one occasion.

“I love the Dolphins,” Thomas said at one point, according to the Times. “I’m a Dolphins fan. Primarily a Cowboys fan, but a Dolphins fan also.”

Thomas recently has been at the center of a controversy regarding the propriety of Supreme Court justices receiving gifts and services from wealthy private citizens. The concern is that, even when the person providing gifts and services doesn’t have an active case before the Supreme Court, the precedents created by the Supreme Court can benefit wealthy private citizens by creating law that is favorable to their wealth and the interests of their businesses that create it. Apparently, the rules are loose and rarely applied in situations like this, resulting in Thomas getting plenty of stuff from wealthy private citizens, without disclosure and/or scrutiny.

Jones, a very wealthy private citizen, generally wants the laws applicable to him and his business interests to be as favorable as possible. Thomas is one of the justices whose beliefs — and votes on cases — advance those interests.

Which makes the placement of a Super Bowl ring on the scales of justice a small price to pay in advance of a far greater potential return.

The Jones-Thomas connection becomes even more relevant now that Thomas’s long battle against affirmative action has begun to secure victory in the Supreme Court. As explained yesterday, the potential application of the recent landmark deciion from the Supreme Court on affirmative action to private employment could force the NFL to abandon the Rooney Rule.