Today (April 6), the nonprofit newsroom revealed that for over two decades, Clarence and his wife, Ginni Thomas, have accepted luxury trips from conservative businessman Harlan Crow almost yearly.
However, according to the outlet, the couple did not disclose the expenses. In doing so, Clarence may have violated a law requiring justices, judges, and members of Congress to disclose most gifts. He serves as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
In a statement, Crow admitted that he shared his generosity with the judge and his wife over time but said Clarence didn’t ask him to. Instead, Crow stated the trips were “no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends.”
Over their 30-plus-year friendship, Clarence has vacationed on Crow’s superyacht around the globe and has used his Bombardier Global 5000 jet. At one point, Clarence accompanied the Dallas businessman to an exclusive California all-male retreat and Crow’s ranch in East Texas. The report also uncovered that executives of major corporations and leaders of prominent conservative organizations made appearances on trips with Crow and Clarence.
Crow responded, “I am unaware of any of our friends ever lobbying or seeking to influence Justice Thomas on any case, and I would never invite anyone who I believe had any intention of doing that. These are gatherings of friends.” After learning this information, retired federal judge Nancy Gertner told the newsroom that it was “incomprehensible to [her] that someone would do this.”
Former ethics lawyer Virginia Canter also shared that Clarence “seems to have completely disregarded his higher ethical obligations.” She added, “When a justice’s lifestyle is subsidized by the rich and famous, it corrodes public trust. Quite frankly, it makes my heart sink.”
The investigation into the judge and Crow comes as the nation’s highest court attempts to resist requests for a code of ethics that could address similar instances. Meanwhile, Dick Durbin, the Senate judiciary committee chairman, shared his thoughts on the newsroom report to CNN. He said it was a “call to action” and that “the Senate Judiciary Committee will act.”