Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, also called “Crew,” calls for the resignation of the United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas citing the latter’s failure to declare lavish gifts and financial support from a Republican mega-donor, Harlan Crow.
In an open letter to Justice Thomas, Mr. Noah Bookbinder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics called this issue a “grave crisis of institutional legitimacy currently facing the supreme court.” In a report by AbusiveDiscretion, it was stated that during an extensive ProPublica investigation spanning two decades, it was revealed that Justice Thomas and his spouse indulged in extravagant voyages and excursions aboard luxury yachts and private jets provided by Harlan Crow. These opulent journeys took them to exquisite locations such as the Bohemian Grove resort in California, Crow’s Texas ranch, his private lakeside retreat in the Adirondacks, and even a vacation in Indonesia. Astonishingly, the magistrate failed to include these lavish trips in his financial disclosures, contravening a legal requirement that mandates justices, judges, members of Congress, and federal officials to disclose most gifts.
Mr. Bookbinder in the said letter stated, “For the sake of the court and for the sake of our democracy which depends on a judiciary that the public accepts as legitimate and free from corruption, we urge you to resign.” Adding the statement, “Your conduct has likely violated civil and criminal laws and has created the impression that access to and influence over supreme court justices is for sale.”
Justice Thomas stated that he refrained from reporting gifts received from Crow, which encompassed extravagant travel and accommodations, due to advice he received. However, he has expressed his commitment to rectifying this omission by disclosing such gifts in the future. Regarding allegations surrounding Crow’s purchase of a property where Justice Thomas’s mother resides rent-free, the justice has chosen not to comment. Furthermore, Thomas has not addressed the reports suggesting that Crow financed the private education of Thomas’s great-nephew, whom the justice has been raising as if he were his own son. Lastly, there are claims of conservative activist Leonard Leo orchestrating undisclosed payments amounting to tens of thousands of dollars to Ginni Thomas, the justice’s spouse, who is known for her right-wing activism.
While Supreme Court justices are theoretically bound by ethical guidelines for federal justices, they effectively exercise self-governance. There have been demands from Democrats for the impeachment and removal of Justice Thomas, which face significant obstacles. As Republicans currently control the House, where the impeachment process initiates, they are poised to safeguard the conservative majority of 6-3 on the court. This majority has been instrumental in issuing significant judgments, including the curtailment of abortion rights. Democrats have also voiced their support for ethics reform alongside their calls for action.
In a written correspondence addressed to the justice, Bookbinder also conveyed the following message: “It is evident that throughout the past few decades, you have consistently partaken in a prolonged series of actions involving the acceptance and covert concealment of gifts and various advantages from a billionaire political activist. Furthermore, you have disregarded your ethical obligation to recuse yourself from cases where there exists a personal or financial conflict of interest.”
According to Bookbinder, the revelations surrounding Thomas are amplifying a severe erosion of public trust that poses a significant risk to the integrity of the entire federal judiciary. Surveys conducted among the general public indicate that confidence in the court has reached unprecedented lows.
Bookbinder added, “It is increasingly difficult for people to trust that you are making decisions only based on the law and a commitment to justice… The judiciary is built entirely upon a foundation of public trust. If that falls away, the institution will fail. While we appreciate your many years of public service, your conduct has left you with only one way to continue faithfully serving our democracy.”
Source: The Guardian