Clarence Thomas faces fresh scrutiny over undisclosed luxury trips funded by billionaire

This has prompted renewed calls for his resignation and demands for stricter ethics reforms for the highest court in the land.

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Recent revelations have shown that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took at least three additional undisclosed trips on a private jet owned by Texas billionaire Harlan Crow. The Senate Judiciary Committee uncovered these trips, adding to the growing list of luxury travels and gifts that Thomas failed to report. This has prompted renewed calls for his resignation and demands for stricter ethics reforms for the highest court in the land.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), revealed new details of Thomas’s luxury travel following negotiations with Crow’s attorneys. Documents obtained from Crow disclosed that Thomas took a private jet trip in May 2017 from St. Louis to Kalispell, Montana, with a return flight to Dallas; a March 2019 trip from Washington, D.C. to Savannah, Georgia, and back; and a June 2021 trip from Washington, D.C. to San Jose, California, and back.

“Nearly $4.2 million in gifts and even that wasn’t enough for Justice Thomas, with at least three additional trips the committee found that he has failed to disclose to date,” Durbin stated. “The Senate Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Supreme Court’s ethical crisis is producing new information—like what we’ve revealed today—and makes it crystal clear that the highest court needs an enforceable code of conduct, because its members continue to choose not to meet the moment.”

Thomas’s recent belated disclosures of two luxury trips funded by Crow have done little to quell the controversy. These revelations come after investigative reports by ProPublica uncovered dozens of billionaire-financed vacations that Thomas took during his three decades on the bench. Ethics experts argue that Thomas likely violated the law by failing to disclose private jet flights and other gifts.

The new findings include private jet travel and an eight-day yacht excursion to Indonesia in July 2019, which Thomas failed to disclose in his 2019 financial disclosure report. Additionally, Crow’s documents showed discrepancies in the dates of the July 2019 Indonesia trip, further questioning the accuracy of Thomas’s disclosures.

The financial implications of these undisclosed trips are staggering. Nearly $4.2 million in gifts have been documented, with the latest revelations adding to this tally. Under the financial disclosure statute (5 U.S.C. 13104(a)(2)(A)), gifts of transportation must be disclosed, a requirement Thomas has repeatedly failed to meet.

Public and political reactions have been swift and severe. Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.), have called for Thomas’s immediate resignation. “Clarence Thomas is corrupt as hell and the corruption at the Republican Supreme Court stinks to high heaven,” Pascrell wrote on social media. “Thomas should resign immediately and I urge all my colleagues to demand the same.”

Despite these calls for accountability, the Supreme Court has been slow to implement meaningful reforms. Earlier this week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) blocked an attempt by Senate Democrats to pass the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act, which would require the justices to adopt a binding code of conduct and create new recusal requirements.

Durbin and the Senate Judiciary Committee have been advocating for these reforms for more than a decade. The SCERT Act aims to address the ethical lapses by requiring the Supreme Court to adopt a binding code of conduct, create a mechanism to investigate alleged violations, and improve transparency when justices have connections to parties before the Court.

“The ethics crisis at the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, is unacceptable. It is unsustainable and it is unworthy of the highest court in the land,” Durbin stated. “Despite an approval rating near all-time lows and never-ending, self-inflicted scandals, Chief Justice Roberts still refuses to use his existing authority to implement an enforceable code of conduct. Until he acts, we will continue our push for the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act to become law.”

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Alexis Sterling is a seasoned War and Human Rights Reporter with a passion for reporting the truth in some of the world's most tumultuous regions. With a background in journalism and a keen interest in international affairs, Alexis's reporting is grounded in a commitment to human rights and a deep understanding of the complexities of global conflicts. Her work seeks to give voice to the voiceless and bring to light the human stories behind the headlines. Alexis is dedicated to responsible and engaged journalism, constantly striving to inform and educate the public on critical issues of war and human rights across the globe.

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