Apr 10, 2023

Justice Clarence Thomas Defends Vacations With GOP Donor

The Supreme Court justice has come under fire for failing to disclose lavish yearly vacations funded by a family friend, who is also a major Republican donor.
Justice Clarence Thomas Defends Vacations With GOP Donor

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What happened? A recent ProPublica investigation found that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife have gone on vacations funded by their family friend and billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow for over 20 years. Some of the trips included transportation via private jet flights and yachts. None of the trips were reported on Justice Thomas’s financial disclosures.

Legality: Justices typically have to report gifts worth more than $415, with certain exceptions for food and lodging at someone’s personal property. Legal experts criticizing Thomas argue that the exceptions don’t apply to transportation, like jet and yacht trips. Only in March were stricter financial disclosure rules for the judiciary adopted, which state that transportation must be disclosed.

The defense: In a statement to ProPublica, Crow argued he and his wife were simply being hospitable to Thomas and his wife, their friends of 23 years. He claims they never discussed any Court cases and “never sought to influence Justice Thomas on any legal or political issue.” On Friday, Justice Thomas said he’d been advised early in his tenure that personal hospitality from close friends needn’t be reported. He also said that he was planning to follow the recently updated guidelines for future trips.

Between the lines: Justice Thomas is arguably the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court, making him a constant target. The January 6 committee had previously targeted Clarence Thomas’s wife because of private texts in which she expressed concerns about election integrity in 2020. Now, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is calling again for his impeachment and for his SCOTUS rulings to be ignored.

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