Senate Democrats need investigation into luxurious journey

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses during a group photo of Supreme Court justices in Washington, April 23, 2021.

Erin Schaff | swimming pool | Reuters

The Democratic majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday called for an investigation into the conduct of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after a report revealed he had failed to disclose years of luxury travel funded by a Republican mega-donor.

Chief Justice John Roberts, under his authority, “should immediately begin an investigation into how such conduct could have taken place,” read a letter from Illinois Chairman Dick Durbin and 10 other Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The committee announced in the letter that it would hold a hearing on the “need to restore confidence in the Supreme Court’s ethical standards” “in the coming days.”

Democrats also warned that if the Supreme Court didn’t do so of its own accord, they would “consider legislation to solve the problem.”

The letter came three days after Thomas said he was cautioned early in his tenure as Supreme Court Justice that “this type of personal hospitality from close personal friends who had nothing to do before the court was not reportable.” “.

“I have endeavored to follow that advice throughout my tenure and have always attempted to comply with disclosure guidelines,” Thomas said in a statement.

The 74-year-old judge, who has served on the country’s highest court since 1991, responded to ProPublica’s report last Thursday that he had accepted expensive trips from wealthy GOP donor Harlan Crow for more than two decades.

Crow told ProPublica that “the hospitality we’ve shown to the Thomas’s over the years is no different than the hospitality we’ve shown to our many other dear friends.” That hospitality has included vacations to Crow’s 162-foot, according to ProPublica -Superyacht, flights on the GOP donor’s private jet and stays at their exclusive resort.

The investigation, which cited a number of documents and interviews, also cited ethics experts who said Thomas appeared to have broken a disclosure law by not reporting the trips. But some judicial ethics experts have said Thomas may not have been required to report the trips under the rules that were in place before they were updated last month.

Thomas’ statement said the reporting guidelines are “changing now because the Judiciary Conference committee responsible for financial disclosures throughout the federal judiciary announced new guidelines just last month.” And it is of course my intention to follow this orientation into the future.”

A letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee to Roberts said Thomas’s failure to report the trips was “clearly inconsistent with the ethical standards that the American people expect of any person in a position of public trust.”

The letter came after Durbin, the Senate majority whip, called for the imposition of an “enforceable code of conduct” on judges who are not bound by the same rules of ethics followed by other federal judges.

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