Introduction: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, facing scrutiny over gifts from Texas billionaire Harlan Crow, has now disclosed a series of complimentary trips funded by Crow. The revelations include private jet flights taken for security reasons following a contentious Supreme Court decision leak. Thomas’s official financial disclosure for 2022 provides a more comprehensive account of these gifts, which had not been fully reported in previous years.
Justice Thomas’ Disclosure: Justice Thomas, the longest-serving and most conservative Supreme Court justice, acknowledged accepting private flights on Crow’s jet last year, prompted by security concerns after the leak of the Dobbs opinion, which overturned abortion rights. These private flights were recommended by his security detail for official travel.
Detailed Financial Disclosure: Thomas’s 2022 financial disclosure is more detailed than prior years. Investigative reports previously uncovered gifts such as a Bali vacation on Crow’s yacht and resort stays. These reports raised questions about potential conflicts of interest and ethical considerations among Supreme Court justices.
Lack of Binding Code of Ethics: Supreme Court justices do not have a binding code of ethics, although an ethics statement was provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier in the year. Calls for a formal ethics code for the court have been made, but it faces obstacles in Congress.
Gifts and Benefits: Thomas had reportedly accepted numerous gifts and benefits from Crow and other wealthy benefactors since the 2000s. These included covering tuition fees for Thomas’s grandnephew, purchasing his mother’s house, and donations to a conservative lobbying group founded by Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas. Previous financial disclosures did not include these details, citing a “personal hospitality exemption.”
Disclosure Amendment: Thomas indicated his willingness to amend prior-year disclosures if required, citing new travel reporting rules.
Transaction Details: Thomas revealed additional information about the transaction involving Crow’s purchase of his mother’s home in Savannah, Georgia, along with two neighboring houses. The transaction took place in