Thomas' Team Adds Angry Defense to Disclosures

Justice nevertheless is called out for history of unreported gifts
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2023 7:30 PM CDT
Thomas' Lawyer Says Hatred Is Behind Disclosure Criticism
Analilia Mejia of the Center for Popular Democracy, center, joins other activists calling for ethics reform in the US Supreme Court in Washington in May.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas didn't just file his delayed financial disclosure form on Thursday and let it go at that. He included a defense of his travels with billionaire Harlan Crow—an unusual addition, the New York Times reports. And the justice's personal attorney released a strident, six-page statement ripping "left wing" groups that he said had weaponized ethics against Thomas. Elliot Berke said the critical response to news reporting, largely by ProPublica, that uncovered Thomas' financial arrangements with Crow and other wealthy backers was "motivated by hatred for his judicial philosophy," per the Wall Street Journal.

"No Justice, Justice Thomas included, should be subjected to such political blood sport," Berke wrote, per the Hill, saying the criticism could not be attributed to "any real belief in any ethical lapses." Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who has called for the court to adopt a code of ethics, nevertheless criticized Thomas' actions Thursday. The justice's belated "effort at 'Cleanup on Aisle Three' won't deter us from fully investigating the massive, secret, right-wing billionaire influence in which this court is enmired."

Some of the free flights, Thomas said, were accepted for security reasons. He asserted that some disclosures were not made because existing regulations didn't require it, and he said that previous financial reports had errors and omissions that included bank accounts. Thomas called the mistakes inadvertent. The head of the organization Fix the Court said Thursday that the Thomas' "penchant for living a lifestyle few of us can only dream of is not reflected in today's report," per CNN. Gabe Roth added that, "to be fully compliant with the law, he should go back and amend earlier disclosures to recount the full extent of the lavish gifts he's received over the years." (More Clarence Thomas stories.)

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