“No individual, regardless of their position or stature, should be exempt from legal scrutiny for lawbreaking,” the lawmakers argue, adding that “the integrity of our judicial system hinges on the impartiality and transparency of its members.”
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Following revelations that Clarence Thomas accepted dozens of luxurious trips and gifts from wealthy benefactors without disclosing them, a group of prominent Democrats, led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), is calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the ethically challenged Supreme Court justice.
The lawmakers assert that Thomas may have broken the law when keeping quiet about receiving things of significant value from these individuals. New reporting from ProPublica showed that multiple billionaires have subsidized the luxurious lifestyle of the justice and his wife, the right-wing activist Ginni Thomas. To make matters worse, Thomas then did not report that he was the recipient of their largesse.
“Justice Thomas’s consistent failure to disclose gifts and benefits from industry magnates and wealthy, politically active executives highlights a blatant disregard for judicial ethics as well as apparent legal violations,” wrote the lawmakers.
In addition to AOC, the letter was also signed by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee ranking member, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA).
“No individual, regardless of their position or stature, should be exempt from legal scrutiny for lawbreaking,” they argued, adding that “the integrity of our judicial system hinges on the impartiality and transparency of its members.”
In addition to trying to get the Department of Justice involved, congressional Democrats also want the Supreme Court to adopt a code of ethics following revelations that Thomas, as well as Justice Samuel Alito, had accepted gifts and travel.
However, that kind of legislation will never pass the GOP-controlled House.
Therefore, the best avenue for accountability might be to get the DOJ involved, although it seems unlikely that this is a fight Garland would want to get involved in.
Still, it is pretty clear that what Thomas and Alito are doing at the very least violates the spirit of existing disclosure rules.
Therefore, the lawmakers assert that the DOJ must act, especially in the case of Thomas, who is a serial offender.
“As a Supreme Court justice and high constitutional officer, Justice Thomas should be held to the highest standard, not the lowest — and he certainly shouldn’t be allowed to violate federal law,” the Democrats write. “Refusing to hold him accountable would set a dangerous precedent, undermining public trust in our institutions and raising legitimate questions about the equal application of laws in our nation.”
When news first broke of Thomas accepting things of significant value from billionaire Harlan Crow, the justice defended himself by saying such gifts do not have to be reported if they come from close friends.
Even if that were the case, it would seem as though a Supreme Court justice who is not ethically challenged would go the extra mile to disclose any type of present just to ensure there is not even a hint of impropriety.
Thomas, however, chose to do the opposite, which is why he certainly looks corrupt right now.