WASHINGTON – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday explained his failure to disclose the travels of his friend, conservative billionaire Harlan Crow.
In a statement, Thomas said Crow and his wife, Kathy, “are dear friends” and that he and his wife have joined them on family trips over the years.
“Early in my tenure at the Court, I was asked by my colleagues and others in the administration of the judiciary, and I was advised that such personal entertainment by private friends who had no business in the court were not reportable,” Thomas. he said.
“I have tried to follow that policy throughout my life, and I have always wanted to comply with the indications of treason,” he added.
Thomas, one of the court’s six conservative justices, noted that he would abide by the changes made to the opening rules that were announced last month. Those surveys revealed that routes on private jets and cabins were frequented by private residents like one Raven in upstate New York.
The change to the disclosure rules restricted the exemption for “personal care” which was strictly defined.
That tweak was made just weeks ago ProPublica An article published Thursday detailed the extravagant trips Thomas took from the Crow farm.
Thomas did not disclose these trips—which apparently included travel on private Cornish roads and visits to resorts—in his annual financial statements. Under the rules, which existed until recently, it is not clear whether it was necessary, but whether it was or not, ethical experts questioned its judgment.
The personal hospitality exemption means that judges and justices do not have to disclose certain gifts, including accommodations and food, when the person is a friend. The new interpretation made it clear that private travel was to be discovered by force and the remaining resources of private property.
Stephen Gillers, a judicial ethics expert at New York University School of Law, said on Friday that Thomas’s explanation was insufficient.
“Thomas advised that he would not defend himself against his works, unless he should say that he had been deceived by them.” Thomas’ sentence was effectively “an admission that he violated the rules, albeit because he was deceived,” Gillers added.
Before Thomas’ statement was released, Gillers had said that disclosure rules, prior to the recent update, were “vague enough” that Thomas was the most likely argument that he was not required to disclose.
Thomas has been the focus of much scrutiny in recent months, largely driven by the actions of his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, including her support of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Thomas himself is criticized for not withdrawing from Trump’s causes and the election.
The Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority angered liberals in the American legal scene, most notably with its ruling last year, which overturned Roe 1973, v. Wade’s decision, which said women had a constitutional right to obtain abortions.
The latest developments have been updated to call for the Supreme Court to adopt an ethical code of conduct similar to that which binds lower judges.
Among other things, this standard requires judges to “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all actions.” If judges violate the code, they can be tracked down and reprimanded through the individual complaints process.
The justices say they follow the spirit of the Code introduced in 1973, but have never formally adopted one of their own. There is also no system that allows brief complaints to be investigated at the drastic level of prosecution.
Members of Congress have introduced legislation requiring justices to adopt the code.