Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas admitted Thursday that he made three trips last year in a private plane owned by Republican megadonor Harlan Crowe, although he dismissed criticism over his failure to report the trips in previous years.
This is the first time in years that Thomas is reported to have received hospitality from Crowe. In a filing posted on the federal judiciary’s website, the 75-year-old judge said he was following the federal judiciary’s new guidelines for travel reporting, but did not include any past travel at Crowe’s expense. including a 2019 trip to Indonesia. The yacht is owned by a wealthy businessman and benefactor to conservative causes.
The report comes amid a growing focus on ethics in the High Court, triggered by a series of reports revealing that Thomas has for years Crowe received undisclosed expensive gifts, including international travel. Crowe also bought a house in Georgia where thomas’s mother continue to live and Payment of private school tuition fees for two years To a child raised by Thomas and his wife Ginny.
This was also revealed by the reporting of the investigative news site ProPublica. Justice Samuel Alito He failed to disclose his private trip to Alaska in 2008, which was paid for by two wealthy Republican donors, one of whom has repeatedly held interests before the court. The Associated Press also reported in july he Justice Sonia SotomayorWith the help of its staff, it has increased its book sales through college visits in the last decade.
Supreme Court justices have no binding code of conduct and have resisted the idea that they adopt it or have it imposed on them by Congress. In the spring, all nine justices signed a statement of ethics that Chief Justice John Roberts provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Roberts has accepted That judges could do more to address ethical concerns. But neither the statement nor Roberts’ comments convinced Senate Democrats. Democratic-controlled Committee approves a code of conduct for the court on a party-line vote in July.
The legislation has little chance of passing the Senate — it would need at least nine GOP votes, and Republicans strongly oppose it — or the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Elliot Burke, the attorney representing Thomas, issued a scathing statement defending the judge’s conduct and hitting out at his critics.
Burke said, “The attacks on Justice Thomas have been nothing short of ridiculous and dangerous, and they have set a terrible precedent for political blood sports through federal ethics filings.” “Justice Thomas’s revised report answers – and completely refutes – the allegations made in this partisan frenzy.”
But two ethics experts who advise High Court judges or nominees said it has been clear to them for years that travel on private planes must be reported.
“You report free trips on jets, private jets, if you take them. I don’t understand the idea that, ‘Gee, the rules have changed for us.’ Richard Painter, who was the White House’s chief ethics counsel when Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts were nominated to the Supreme Court, said, “This is utter nonsense.”
painter now believes The Court Needs Its Ethics Counsel As Well As An Inspector General Investigating possible judicial misconduct.
“The failure to report private plane travel paid for by a corporate donor has always been a glaring omission in Thomas’ filings,” Stephen Gilers, whose advice is sought by now-retired judge Stephen Breyer, said in an email.
One visit reported by Thomas was to Crow’s Lodge in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. ProPublica has reported that Thomas goes there every year. The other two trips were to Dallas, where he spoke at conferences sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. Thomas said court officials have recommended that he avoid business travel for a trip in mid-May because of concerns about the safety of judges. Draft of court’s abortion opinion leaked which overturned Roe v. Wade.
The judge also belatedly acknowledged that Crowe had purchased a home in Savannah, Georgia. Thomas and other family members owned the house as well as two neighboring properties. The sale was completed in 2014, but Thomas said he mistakenly thought he did not need to report it because “the sale resulted in a capital loss.”
Stating that he and his wife have a net worth of $1.2 million to $2.7 million, Thomas also corrected several other inaccuracies from previous reports. These include leaving accounts at a credit union that were worth $100,000 to $250,000 last year and a life insurance policy in his wife’s name that was worth less than $100,000.
Thomas is considering whether to amend the earlier reports, he said. Thomas and Alito’s annual financial reports were released Thursday after nearly three months of the other seven judges, Thomas and Alito were given 90-day extensions. Alito reported a net worth of $2.8 million to $7.4 million.
While most of his holdings are in mutual funds, Alito retains shares of energy and other companies that occasionally force him to recuse from Supreme Court cases.
alito, In an unusual column in The Wall Street Journalstated that he was under no obligation to report the Alaska trip or recuse himself from any matter involving the beneficiary.