Senate Democrats demand investigation into Justice Thomas' travel, gifts

 April 11, 2023

The 11 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts demanding that he investigate Justice Clarence Thomas over travel and gifts he received from longtime friend and GOP megadonor Harlan Crow. 

The senators said they plan to bring a code of conduct for the high court to the floor in the next few days, but said Roberts should take action meanwhile.

“You have a role to play as well, both in investigating how such conduct could take place at the Court under your watch, and in ensuring that such conduct does not happen again. We urge you to immediately open such an investigation and take all needed action to prevent further misconduct,” the letter read.

Thomas said that he cleared the gifts of travel with other justices on the court before it occurred and that he has always disclosed it as required.

"Dear friends"

He also said that Crow was one of his "dearest friends" over the last 25 years.

The concerns about travel with the Crows came about when ProPublica published an article about it on Thursday making allegations that he had committed ethics violations.

“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 a quarter century we have known them,” Thomas said in a Friday statement from the Court.

“Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable,” Thomas said.

Guidelines changing

He further said that he has always followed the guidelines, and will continue to do so even as they are in the process of changing.

New rules about disclosing trips paid for by third parties were adopted in March for federal and Supreme Court judges.

Of course, Democrats are using the reports about Thomas's travel to call for his resignation because they hate him and have always wanted him gone.

Crow told ProPublica that he and the Thomases have been friends for years and has extended to them hospitality “no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends.”

No conflict

Crow has never had any business before the Supreme Court, and Thomas should recuse himself if he ever does.

But asking him not to have any rich friends seems excessive. Thomas himself is worth $13 million after making more than $200,000 a year as a Supreme Court justice.

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