Liberal senators who sit on the Judiciary Committee have called on the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice John Roberts to initiate an investigation on conservative Justice Clarence Thomas.
This comes after recent reports revealed that Thomas and his wife accepted luxury trips from a megadonor to the Republican Party without disclosing them.
The letter that the Democratic senators sent to Roberts indicated that their committee has plans to host their own hearing in the near future about the “need to restore confidence in the Supreme Court’s ethical standards.”
The letter goes on to say that if the high court doesn’t decide to deal with this issue itself, then the committee could consider crafting legislation that they would vote on. Of course, even if they were to do that, the hypothetical bill would need to receive enough support from Republicans in the upper chamber for it to pass – and that doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that the Republican-led House would need to pass it, too.
There were 11 liberal senators who signed onto the letter to Roberts. It read, in part:
“You do not need to wait for Congress to act to undertake your own investigation into the reported conduct and to ensure that it cannot happen again.”
Late last week, ProPublica, a nonprofit journalism organization that conducts investigations, reported Thomas has accepted almost annual luxury trips from Harlan Crow, a major donor to the Republican Party, for nearly 20 years. Thomas has served on the high court for 31 years.
ProPublica’s report said that Thomas and his wife Virginia have been on Crow’s private jet and yacht, and they’ve stayed at a private resort that he owns in the Adirondack Mountains in New York.
The outlet’s story detailed that the Thomases took a vacation to Indonesia in 2019 that may have come with a price tag of more than $500,000, had Thomas decided to charter the yacht and plane himself.
In their letter, the senators said that it has been known for more than 10 years that Thomas accepted these lavish gifts from Crow. When senators originally found out, they urged the high court to adopt resolutions that would force all justices to abide by the same ethics rules that everyone else who’s part of the federal judiciary has to follow.
As the senators wrote in their letter to Roberts this week:
“This problem could have been resolved then. Instead, according to ProPublica’s reporting, Mr. Crow’s dispensation of favors escalated in secret during the years that followed. Now, the Court faces a crisis of public confidence in its ethical standards that must be addressed.”
Last Friday, Thomas defended himself in the matter, saying he wasn’t required to submit disclosure of these trips. All justices of the Supreme Court have to file an annual report for financial disclosures where they have to list all gifts they received.
However, there are some exemptions when it comes to receiving hospitality from people who are considered friends.