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Clarence Thomas, undisclosed luxury trips, and Supreme Court ethics

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife and conservative activist Virginia Thomas arrive at the Heritage Foundation on in Washington, DC.
Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife and conservative activist Virginia Thomas arrive at the Heritage Foundation on in Washington, DC.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been on the bench foralmost 32 years. For more than25 of those years, he’s been close with a billionaire Republican donor. 

AProPublica investigationfound that Justice Thomas went on luxury trips with Dallas billionaire Harlan Crow for 20 years and did not include them on his financial disclosures. He frequently took trips on Crow’sprivate jetand yacht. One such excursion in 2019 was worth $500,000.

Justice Thomas said he consulted with his colleagues at the beginning of his tenure on the court. It was his understanding that he didn’t need to report“personal hospitality from close personal friends.”

Harlan Crow’s companies also bought Georgia real estate from Justice Thomas which was also not disclosed. Four ethics law experts told ProPublica this was a violation of a federal disclosure law passed after Watergate.

The Senate Judiciary Committeeplans onholding a hearing to discuss the Supreme Court’s ethical standards. 

If there isn’t a Supreme Court code of ethics, what rules govern what its justices can do, or who they can have relationships with?We put together a panel to discuss.

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Jorgelina Manna-Rea