Clarence Thomas Delays Disclosures After Reports Of Secret Gifts
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has asked to delay filing his annual financial disclosure despite being under heightened scrutiny for receiving undisclosed gifts and other benefits from a Republican donor.
Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito both asked for an extension of up to 90 days, as confirmed by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Alito has made such requests in previous years. It was unclear why either justice needed more time to file their disclosure reports.
The remaining justices, along with most other federal judges, provided their disclosure reports, which were released Wednesday. The reports span activity in 2022 and are supposed to include any paid travel, outside income, investments, significant gifts and the source of a spouse’s income.
Thomas’ filing in particular was highly anticipated after ProPublica released an investigation earlier this year of the justice’s financial dealings with his friend, Texas billionaire and Republican donor Harlan Crow. Thomas had failed to disclose luxury gifts he received from Crow for decades, including private jet travel, lavish vacations and private club admissions.
Crow also purchased the Georgia property where Thomas’ mother continues to live, and he paid for two years of private boarding school tuition for the justice’s grandnephew, who was being raised by the Thomases. Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, also allegedly received secret payments from Leonard Leo, the man largely behind the court’s conservative makeup.
Top Senate Democrats have been trying to bring Crow to Congress for questioning after ProPublica’s report. Crow has so far refused to answer any of the senators’ questions, leaving Senate Democratic leaders on Tuesday to conclude that “all options are on the table,” including issuing a subpoena.
The report on Clarence Thomas’ dealings put the spotlight on the high court’s ethics and whether justices both liberal and conservative are honest in their recusals from cases in which there could be a conflict of interest. Justices have allegedly discussed in private creating an ethics code of conduct specific to the Supreme Court but so far have failed to come to a consensus. There is currently no binding code of ethics for the justices, who have resisted attempts by Congress to create one.
Revised ethics rules in March require the justices and federal judges to provide a more detailed accounting of gifts in the form of travel, as well as clarify which gifts can be exempt from disclosure due to being considered a “personal hospitality” from a friend.
The only justice who disclosed a gift during this round of filing was Ketanji Brown Jackson, who reported receiving a $1,200 congratulatory floral display from Oprah Winfrey and $6,580 in designer clothing for a photo shoot for Vogue magazine as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court.