MIL-OSI USA: Durbin Reveals Omissions Of Gifted Private Travel To Justice Clarence Thomas From Harlan Crow

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US Senate News:

Source: United States Senator for Illinois Dick Durbin

06.13.24

In exclusively obtained information from Harlan Crow as a result of Durbin and the Senate Judiciary Committee Majority’s Supreme Court ethics investigation and subpoena authorization, Durbin releases details of gifted private travel to Justice Thomas that Thomas has failed to disclose

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released exclusively obtained information from Harlan Crow on his gifts of free luxury travel to Justice Clarence Thomas, which was omitted from Justice Thomas’ financial disclosure, despite last week’s amendment to his 2019 financial disclosure report. A report on the Senate Judiciary Committee Majority’s Supreme Court ethics investigation will be released later this summer.

In documents obtained by the Committee as a result of the subpoena authorization for information from Harlan Crow on November 30, 2023, Crow revealed travel and gifts that Justice Thomas has failed to disclose to date, including:

  • May 2017 private jet travel from St. Louis, MO, to Kalispell, MT, and return flight to Dallas, TX;
  • March 2019 private jet travel from Washington, DC, to Savannah, GA, and back; and
  • June 2021 private jet travel from Washington, DC, to San Jose, CA, and back.

The documents also showed private jet travel for the recently-disclosed July 2019 trip to Indonesia; an eight-day yacht excursion for the recently-disclosed July 2019 trip to Indonesia; and private jet travel for the recently-disclosed July 2019 trip to Santa Rosa, California, all of which Thomas failed to disclose in his amendment to his 2019 financial disclosure report last week. Additionally, Crow’s documents show different dates for the July 2019 Indonesia trip, further calling into question the accuracy of the details Justice Thomas decides to disclose.

Recent reporting found that Justice Thomas has accepted nearly $4.2 million worth of gifts over two decades on the Court—a total nearly ten times the value of all gifts received by his fellow justices during the same time.

“Nearly $4.2 million in gifts and even that wasn’t enough for Justice Thomas, with at least three additional trips the Committee found that he has failed to disclose to date,” said Durbin. “The Senate Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Supreme Court’s ethical crisis is producing new information—like what we’ve revealed today—and makes it crystal clear that the highest court needs an enforceable code of conduct, because its members continue to choose not to meet the moment.”

Durbin continued, “As a result of our investigation and subpoena authorization, we are providing the American public greater clarity on the extent of ethical lapses by Supreme Court justices and the need for ethics reform. Despite an approval rating near all-time lows and never-ending, self-inflicted scandals, Chief Justice Roberts still refuses to use his existing authority to implement an enforceable code of conduct. Until he acts, we will continue our push for the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act to become law.”

Despite Justice Thomas’s continued refusal to disclose private jet and yacht travel retroactively in his disclosure amendments, the financial disclosure statute (5 U.S.C. 13104(a)(2)(A)) has always clearly stated that only “food, lodging, or entertainment received as personal hospitality of an individual need not be reported.” Gifts of transportation are required to be disclosed by law.

Documentation of Justice Thomas’s previously undisclosed trips is available here.

Durbin has repeatedly called for the passage of the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act, legislation that the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced last July. The bill would require Supreme Court justices to adopt a binding code of conduct, create a mechanism to investigate alleged violations of the code of conduct and other laws, improve disclosure and transparency when a justice has a connection to a party or amicus before the Court, and require justices to explain their recusal decisions to the public.

Judiciary Committee Democrats asked unanimous consent for the Senate to pass the SCERT Act on the Senate floor last night. The request was objected to by Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans. 

Durbin has been calling on the Supreme Court to adopt an enforceable code of conduct for more than a decade. He first sent a letter to the Chief Justice on this issue more than 12 years ago. 

For full background on Durbin’s and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s efforts to deliver Supreme Court ethics reform for the American people and their ongoing investigation into the Supreme Court’s ethical crisis, visit this page that includes a timeline, releases, correspondence, and information on the SCERT Act.

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