Clarence Thomas officially discloses private trips from megadonor

August 31, 2023

Clarence Thomas officially disclosed Thursday that billionaire Republican megadonor Harlan Crow had paid for the Supreme Court Justice’s private jet trips and a vacation in 2022.

On the disclosure form, Thomas notes that Crow paid for his flights to attend a speech in Texas, and that Crow put him up in the billionaire’s New York estate. 

Thomas further asserts that he took a private flight in May 2022 due to “increased security risk” following the leak that month of the Court’s opinion in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Healthcare. In June 2022 the Justices subsequently ruled to overturn Roe v Wade and five decades of the constitutional right to abortion.

The filing came after both Thomas and his fellow conservative Justice Samuel Alito were granted extensions to file their annual disclosure information in June of this year, though the forms had been due in May. The Supreme Court allows disclosure extensions of up to 90 days.

The disclosure also comes as Thomas in particular has been under fire following in-depth reporting by ProPublica. The non-profit news outlet has revealed “extensive” network of patrons, who’ve donated to Thomas at least 38 vacation destinations including at least one yachting trip, 26 private jet flights, eight helicopter flights, a dozen  VIP passes to professional and college sporting events, stays at luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica, and “one standing invitation to an uber-exclusive golf club overlooking the Atlantic coast.”

A series of ProPublica articles began in April, revealing that Thomas had not disclosed hundreds of thousands of dollars in luxury vacations, real estate dealings and high-priced boarding school fees for his grandnephew specifically from Crow, though he’s not Thomas’ only reported benefactor.

At a time when the behavior of not just Thomas but other conservative and liberal Supreme Court Justices alike have come under ethics scrutiny, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) has warned Chief Justice John Roberts to end the Supreme Court’s practice as virtually the only court in the U.S. operating without a formal code of ethics, or Congress will create a code for it.

Roberts has pushed back, insisting that he’s “committed” to ensuring the nine Justices “adhere to the highest standards of conduct” and that they meet ethical obligations “that are consistent with our status as an independent branch of government under the Constitution’s separation of powers.”

The latest Gallup polling, conducted July 3-27, found that public approval of the Supreme Court is holding at a record low of 40%.

That follows a June Quinnipiac University poll which also found that overall approval of the Supreme Court had dropped to an all-time low, with 30% of registered voters approved of the Court, while 59% disapproved.

Thomas’ 2022 financial disclosure form can be read here.

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