Justice Clarence Thomas of the supreme court is now in the hot seat after a bombshell report from ProPublica revealed a long-standing relationship between him and a Republican donor, Harlan Crow.
According to the report, Crow has been showering Thomas and his wife with luxury vacations for more than 20 years. This is concerning because it raises questions about whether Thomas has been compromised in his judicial duties by accepting these lavish gifts from a political donor.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is controlled by Democrats, plans to hold a hearing on the Supreme Court’s ethical standards, and may even call Justice Thomas to appear. This is a serious development and one that deserves our attention as concerned citizens.
Virginia Canter, the chief ethics counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said, “I think the American people intuitively understand when officials are potentially engaged in corrupt activity. They have a visceral reaction to it, there is a line that cannot be crossed, and I think this is probably one of them. By accepting these gifts, the Justice has completely undermined the public’s trust in the ability of the court to faithfully and impartially discharge their obligations, to apply equal justice under law. The problem here is you really can’t put the genie back in the bottle. You can’t just have him say, ‘I’ll go back and report these gifts.’ I’m not sure how we restore the integrity of the court after these events have occurred.”
As a blogger who has long followed Justice Thomas’s career, I cannot help but feel disappointed by these recent revelations. Thomas has been a stalwart defender of conservative values on the court, and his presence has been a source of strength for the conservative movement.
The recent Washington Post also reported that Thomas continued to claim annual rental income from a real estate firm that ceased to exist in 2006 only adds to the concerns about his financial disclosures. This pattern of errors and omissions over the years raises questions about how seriously Justice Thomas views his responsibility to accurately report details of his finances to the public.