A recurring target of leftist smear jobs, Clarence Thomas has endured a lot of abuse over the years. The conservative Supreme Court justice is under attack once again, this time for accepting the hospitality of a friend who happens to be a wealthy donor.
The leftist outlet ProPublica released a lengthy article documenting expensive vacations that Thomas has accepted from Harlan Crow over the years, including trips on the donor's jet and yacht.
In a statement Friday, Thomas confirmed that he has vacationed with Crow, but the justice said he was advised early in his career that he didn't have to report gifts of hospitality from close friends.
Thomas said he was told "this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable.”
"Harlan and Kathy Crow are among our dearest friends, and we have been friends for over twenty-five years. As friends do, we have joined them on a number of family trips during the more than quarter century we have known them,” Thomas said.
Over a period of 20 years, Thomas has traveled with Crow and stayed at his private resort in the Adirondacks without disclosing it, ProPublica reported.
One of the vacations mentioned would have cost $500,000 if Thomas had paid for it himself, the outlet claimed.
Nowhere in the article does ProPublica claim that Crow ever asked Thomas for any favors, nor has Crow ever had a case before the Supreme Court since Thomas was appointed. And despite an uproar from Democrats, it's not even clear that Thomas was actually required to disclose the trips.
Disclosure requirements for the federal judiciary include an exemption for "personal hospitality" from friends. The rules were made stricter last month, but overnight stays at personal vacation homes owned by friends are still exempt.
As the highest members of an independent branch of government, Supreme Court justices have a great deal of autonomy.
They are not bound to a formal code of ethics, an issue Democrats have pressed lately as part of a broader campaign to "reform" the court that began when conservatives started gaining control under President Trump.
Right on cue, Democrats are leveraging this latest "scandal" to pressure the court and Thomas, with some, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Ny.), calling for his impeachment.
"Thomas must be impeached. Barring some dramatic change, this is what the Roberts court will be known for: rank corruption, erosion of democracy, and the stripping of human rights," she said.