WSJ Editorial: Thomas Is the Victim of a Smear

Conservative page accuses the left of playing politics with reports about his luxury travel
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2023 6:50 AM CDT
WSJ Editorial: This Thomas Scandal Is No Scandal
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.   (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP, File)

Clarence Thomas has been taking a lot of grief from his political enemies over reports of the luxury vacations he has taken for years at the expense of real estate magnate Harlan Crow. Now, however, the conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is coming to his defense. "Thomas has a rich friend who has hosted the Justice on his private plane, his yacht, and his vacation resort," the editors write. "That’s it." It is very much a "non-bombshell story," yet it has nevertheless led to calls for Thomas' impeachment or resignation. The editorial accuses ProPublica, the outlet that first reported the story, of "overkill" and of presenting a skewed view of what went on here.

A key gripe of the editorial:

  • It "seems clear that the Court’s rules at the time all of this happened did not require that gifts of personal hospitality be disclosed. This includes the private plane trips. ProPublica fails to make clear to readers that the U.S. Judicial Conference recently changed its rules to require more disclosure. The new rules took effect last month."
Thomas himself made this point in his public response and said he would abide by the new reporting rules going forward. "It’s all ugly politics, but the left is furious it lost control of the Court, and it wants it back by whatever means possible," the editors write. Read their full editorial. (Or read what AOC and other Democrats think of the allegations.)

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