Senate Democrats are demanding that Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts open an investigation into Justice Clarence Thomas over what they label “misconduct.” The report accuses Thomas of improperly receiving vacations from GOP donor Harlan Crow. The trips reportedly included trips worldwide on Crow’s private jet and yacht without disclosing it.
In a letter on Monday, Dick Durbin, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair from Illinois, as well as all Democrats on the committee, cited the report as proof Justice Thomas had not upheld the ethical standards set for a justice of the Supreme Court.
“The report describes conduct by a sitting Justice that he did not disclose to the public and that is plainly inconsistent with the ethical standards the American people expect of any person in a position of public trust,” read the letter. “The Senate Judiciary Committee, which has legislative jurisdiction over Federal courts and judges, has a role to play in ensuring that the nation’s highest court does not have the federal judiciary’s lowest ethical standards.”
“You have a role to play as well, both in investigating how such conduct does not happen again. We urge you to immediately open such an investigation and take all needed action to prevent further misconduct,” read the letter.
However, experts have dismissed the report as a political hit piece and said justices could accept invites to dinner or vacations from friends without disclosing or paying for it.
“This is just grasping at straws by the left that is desperate to tear down Justice Thomas because he now has a working originalist majority on the court,” said the vice president of domestic policy and The Joseph C. and Elizabeth A. Anderlik Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Roger Severino, after the report’s release. “This is politics. Plain and simple,” added Severino.
Until recently, Jonathan Turley, constitutional law professor, said that “even lower court judges were not required to report such trips under a personal hospitality exception.”
“Justice Thomas would not have been required to report the trips under the prior rule,” said Turley. “Once again, the Democrats and the media appear to be engaging in the same hair-triggered responses to any story related to Thomas. This includes the clearly absurd call for an impeachment by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”
Justice Thomas maintains he broke no rules; travel was approved
Justice Thomas had to defend his over 25-year friendship with Crow last week. Thomas said Crow is one of his “dearest friends,” and the court had approved his family’s vacations with Crow.
Thomas has been under fire after the publication of a ProPublica article Thursday that raised ethical concerns over his travels with his wife Virginia on Crow’s private jet and yacht over the years.