Democrats Seething Over Clarence Thomas Report

AOC, for one, says justice should be impeached over gifts from billionaire conservative donor
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2023 2:49 PM CDT
Democrats Seething Over Clarence Thomas Report
Harlan Crow, in a file photo from 2014.   (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Neither Clarence Thomas himself nor the Supreme Court has responded to ProPublica's report detailing how the justice has received lavish vacations and gifts from a prominent GOP donor for 20 years without disclosing them. Democrats, on the other hand, have plenty to stay about Thomas' relationship with real estate magnate Harlan Crow:

  • AOC: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for Thomas to be impeached. "This is beyond party or partisanship. This degree of corruption is shocking—almost cartoonish," she wrote. Attached to the tweet is an image from the story, a painting (based on a real-life photo) of Thomas at Crow's Adirondack resort smoking a cigar while with Crow with three other prominent conservatives.
  • Durbin: Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin said his panel “will act” in the wake of the report, per the Hill. “The highest court in the land shouldn’t have the lowest ethical standards,” he said in a statement. “Today’s Pro Publica report reveals that Justice Thomas has for years accepted luxury travel on private yachts and jets and a litany of other gifts that he failed to disclose. This behavior is simply inconsistent with the ethical standards the American people expect of any public servant, let alone a Justice on the Supreme Court.”

  • Sen. Whitehouse: “This cries out for the kind of independent investigation that the Supreme Court—and only the Supreme Court, across the entire government—refuses to perform," wrote Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who sits on the Judiciary Committee.
  • Others: Semafor rounds up the reaction of other angry Democrats here.
  • The rules: Here is how the AP lays things out: Supreme Court justices must file an annual financial disclosure report listing gifts they have received, and it's unclear why Thomas failed to do so. Under a judiciary policy guide seen by the AP, "food, lodging or entertainment received as 'personal hospitality of any individual' does not need to be reported if it is at the personal residence of that individual or their family. That said, the exception to reporting is not supposed to cover 'transportation that substitutes for commercial transportation' and properties owned by an entity." Thomas traveled on Crow's superyacht and on his private aircraft. As ProPublica notes, the Supreme Court largely polices itself on such matters, something critics say must change.
  • Crow's statement: ProPublica has provided Crow's full statement, in which he says nothing improper transpired. He said he has extended “hospitality” to the Thomases “over the years” but that the couple “never asked for any of this hospitality." He said they did not discuss matters before the court. “We have never asked about a pending or lower court case, and Justice Thomas has never discussed one, and we have never sought to influence Justice Thomas on any legal or political issue,” Crow said. “More generally, I am unaware of any of our friends ever lobbying or seeking to influence Justice Thomas on any case, and I would never invite anyone who I believe had any intention of doing that. These are gatherings of friends.”
(More Clarence Thomas stories.)

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