WASHINGTON, D.C., April 6, 2023 – A new ProPublica report details how Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas received several luxury vacations from billionaire and Republican megadonor Harlan Crow. These vacations, which included use of Crow’s private jet and yacht trips, totaled several millions of dollars’ worth of gifts that were not appropriately disclosed as required by federal law. Thomas knew he was legally required to disclose these gifts, but he failed to do so on numerous occasions for more than two decades.
This is but the latest indication of the extent to which wealthy and corporate interests have sought to influence our highest Court. Their efforts appear to have been a success, given Justice Thomas has repeatedly ruled in favor of the wealthy and powerful. According to the Constitutional Accountability Center, Thomas has ruled in favor of the Chamber of Commerce’s position in cases 72% of the time. He also notably refused to recuse himself from the 2016 case McDonnell v. United States, which specifically examined the criminality of political leaders accepting gifts from conservative donors.
This is but the latest breach of trust from this Supreme Court and this justice in particular. Justice Thomas has also faced intense scrutiny for refusing to recuse himself when handling cases related to the 2020 election, despite the fact his wife Ginni Thomas — who also joined these luxury excursions — was directly involved in organizing protests to try to overturn its clear result, including on January 6.
When a justice brazenly violates the law, he cannot be trusted to uphold that law. Alliance for Justice calls for the following:
- Justice Thomas should immediately update and correct all his public disclosures to include any gifts that are required to be disclosed.
- Chief Justice Roberts and the U.S. Courts Judicial Conduct Committee should open an investigation into Justice Thomas’s failure to disclose these massive gifts and all efforts to improperly influence the justices’ deliberations and final decisions.
- Congress should convene hearings to investigate Thomas’s relationship with Harlan Crow, Leonard Leo, and others who were present on these trips and who likely sought to influence Thomas. These investigations should ensure that Thomas was not improperly influenced in his decisions and unearth any schemes to improperly influence Thomas and the other justices of the Supreme Court.
- Congress must immediately pass a binding code of ethics for the Supreme Court to create needed accountability, as the Court’s self-policing is clearly failing.
- The United States Department of Justice Public Integrity Section should immediately open an investigation into Justice Thomas’ improper acceptance of lavish gifts and all schemes to influence the justices’ decisions.
- Given his repeated ethical violations over several decades and inability to credibly carry out his public duties, Justice Thomas should resign from the United States Supreme Court.
Alliance for Justice President Rakim H.D. Brooks issued the following statement:
“The rule of law is our most sacred treasure and Justice Thomas can no longer be trusted to protect it. He has abused the power of his office for personal gain and given the American people more than reasonable apprehensions about whether he can be impartial on matters of the greatest public importance.
“Justice Thomas should resign. If he fails to do so, Congress is required by its oath to protect and defend the Constitution to hold robust hearings to determine just how far this rot goes and how badly it has compromised the fair administration of justice.”