Senate Judiciary chair vows committee “will act” over report revealing Clarence Thomas “corruption”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., vowed action in response to a bombshell ProPublica report detailing how Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepted luxury trips and other gifts from billionaire GOP megadonor Harlan Crow.

ProPublica’s report detailed how the conservative justice and his wife, Ginni Thomas, have for over two decades “accepted luxury trips virtually every year from the Dallas businessman without disclosing them.” Crow, a real estate magnate, has long supported GOP candidates and causes.

The report also detailed how the costs incurred by the travel may violate federal law: “These trips appeared nowhere on Thomas’ financial disclosures. His failure to report the flights appears to violate a law passed after Watergate that requires justices, judges, members of Congress and federal officials to disclose most gifts, two ethics law experts said. He also should have disclosed his trips on the yacht, these experts said.”

In the wake of the report’s release, Durbin lambasted Thomas in a statement, promising that “the Senate Judiciary Committee will act.” 

“The highest court in the land shouldn’t have the lowest ethical standards. Today’s Pro Publica report reveals that Justice Thomas has for years accepted luxury travel on private yachts and jets and a litany of other gifts that he failed to disclose,” Durbin said. “This behavior is simply inconsistent with the ethical standards the American people expect of any public servant, let alone a Justice on the Supreme Court.”

Durbin said the report “demonstrates, yet again, that Supreme Court Justices must be held to an enforceable code of conduct, just like every other federal judge. The Pro Publica report is a call to action, and the Senate Judiciary Committee will act.”

Other Democrats did not mince words in calling for Thomas to step down or face impeachment.

“This is beyond party or partisanship,” Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, said in a Thursday tweet. “This degree of corruption is shocking – almost cartoonish. Thomas must be impeached.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., echoed her sentiments, writing, “Public trust in the Supreme Court is at an all time low and Justice Thomas has secretly accepted luxury trips from a billionaire mega-donor while doing the bidding of right-wing extremists from the bench.”

“Thomas must be impeached and SCOTUS needs a binding code of ethics,” she added.

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Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., asserted that Thomas’ alleged duplicity is evidence that the “Court is broken,” and that the “constitutional remedy” is to “expand the Court.”

“Clarence Thomas has proven what we’ve suspected all along — the Supreme Court is beholden to right-wing corporate interest groups and billionaire mega-donors,” she tweeted.

Crow, in a statement to ProPublica, said that he and his wife have been friends with the Thomas’s since the late 1990s, asserting that “Justice Thomas and Ginni never asked for any of this hospitality.”

“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,” he said. “More generally, I am unaware of any of our friends ever lobbying or seeking to influence Justice Thomas on any case, and I would never invite anyone who I believe had any intention of doing that. These are gatherings of friends.”

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