Supreme Court

Justice Clarence Thomas accepted undisclosed lavish trips, report says

A report from ProPublica says Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted luxury trips from a Republican megadonor and did not disclose them.

Justice Clarence Thomas accepted undisclosed lavish trips, report says
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
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The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to act following a report from ProPublica that says Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted undisclosed luxury trips. 

"Today's report demonstrates, yet again, that Supreme Court Justices must be held to an enforceable code of conduct just like every other federal judge," said Sen. Dick Durbin, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The report details a 2019 trip that Thomas and his wife took to Indonesia. ProPublica, a nonprofit news publication, states that the trip was paid for by Harlan Crow, a real estate tycoon and known Republican megadonor. The trip reportedly included the use of a private jet and a staffed superyacht. ProPublica estimates that trip would have cost about $500,000.

Supreme Court Justices currently earn an annual salary of just under $300,000. Thomas has been on the bench since 1991. 

 

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ProPublica reports that Thomas has accepted trips from Crow for more than 20 years without disclosing them. 

In a statement to the publication, Crow said that he and his wife have been friends with Thomas and his wife, Ginni, since 1996. Crow rebuffed any suggestion that the trips were offered in exchange for anything from Thomas. 

"We have never asked about a pending or lower court case, and Justice Thomas has never discussed one, and we have never sought to influence Justice Thomas on any legal or political issue," Crow said. 

It appears Crow has gone on at least some of the trips with Thomas. The ProPublica report features an image of the pair, along with other "conservative political operatives," at Crow's Camp Topridge in New York. The group, surrounded by trees, is seen smoking cigars and drinking. 

Legal experts who spoke with ProPublica said that the trips should have been in Thomas' public financial disclosures. 

It remains unclear what, if any, repercussions Thomas could face following the ProPublica report, which is based on flight records, internal documents from Crow's employees and interviews with numerous people. 

ProPublica said Thomas did not respond to a detailed list of questions it provided. 

Scripps News has not been able to verify the details in the ProPublica report. An author of the report is scheduled to appear on Scripps News' "Morning Rush" on Friday. 

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