It was reported by ProPublica early last week that Clarence Thomas, the an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, has been secretly taking luxury trips provided bya major GOP donor Harlan Crow.
Crow is the chairman of Crow Holdings, a Dallas-based real estate business founded by Crow’s father. Crow is also a leading donoer to the Republican and conservative cause. The relationship of Crow and Thomas goes back to when Thomas was first appointed to the Supreme Court in 1991. Since then, Thomas has reportedly been showered with thousands of dollars in gifts for over three decades.
Supreme Court Justices are required to submit a public notice for all gifts they receive. Gifts are qualified as being over $415 of value without being fully reimbursed. One exception is if someone hosts a justice at their own property, free food and lodging do not need to be disclosed. Flights, however, were never part of the exception, and Justice Thomas has only reported one such notice in 1997 for a private flight from Crow.
There are many gifts which Thomas has not reported, which is concerning since he has accepted luxury trips almost every year. He accepted a fully paid trip to Flores, Indonesia, in 2019 that included his wife as well as Crow in attendance. Thomas also frequents Camp Topridge, which is invite only. He has been pictured there alongside a few lawyers.
According to ProPublica, during a July 2017 trip Thomas’ fellow guests included executives at Verizon and PricewaterhouseCoopers, major Republican donors and one of the leaders of the American Enterprise Institute, a pro-business conservative think tank.
Crow also gave Thomas a Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass, which was valued at $19,000, and he has allowed Thomas to use his superyacht several times.
Justice Clarence Thomas’ statement on the matter includes stating that the Crows are long time family friends, and he has indeed joined them on many “family trips.” Regarding reporting the gifts he received, Thomas said, “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.”
Justice Thomas intends to disclose all future gifts as there are new guidelines on financial disclosure as decided by the Judicial Conference this past month.
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