New documents show unreported travel of Justice Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took three unprecedented trips paid for by conservative Texas billionaire Harlan Crow, according to new documents released Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Details of private jet flights between 2017 and 2021 were obtained as part of an investigation the committee conducted into reports of lavish, undisclosed trips and perks given to judges by Crow and others wealthy benefactors who sparked calls for reform.

Crow released the information after the committee issued subpoenas in November for him and conservative activist Leonard Leo to provide information to the body. The subpoenas were never executed.

Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the documents provided necessary transparency and that the trips should have been reported based on the financial information.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Supreme Court’s ethical crisis produces new information – like what we revealed today – and makes clear that the Supreme Court needs a code of conduct enforceable, as its members continue to choose not to meet the moment,” Durbin said in a statement.

Crow said in a statement that he had reached an agreement with the Senate Judiciary Committee to provide information going back seven years.

Thomas’ unreported thefts include the following:

  • A private jet trip in May 2017 from St. Louis to Kalispell, Montana, and a return flight to Dallas.
  • A private jet trip in March 2019 from DC to Savannah, Georgia, and back.
  • A private jet trip in June 2021 from DC to San Jose and back.

The documents did not mention the cost of the trips or why Thomas took them.

Elliot S. Berke, Thomas’ attorney, said in a statement: “The information provided by Harlan Crow to the Senate Judiciary Committee fell within the ‘personal hospitality exemption’ and did not need to be disclosed by Judge Thomas.

Thomas has complied with the new disclosure requirements, Berke said.

The revelations come after Thomas revealed this month that he failed to report two trips in 2019 to California and Indonesia that were also paid for by Crow. Thomas did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Senate Democrats on Wednesday tried to rush passage of a bill that would provide a binding ethics code for the Supreme Court, but the effort was scuttled by Republicans who said the real goal of the legislation was to undermine a conservative court whose decisions are not considered by Democrats. as.

Leo said in a statement in November after the subpoenas were issued that he “will not cooperate with this illegal campaign of political retaliation.” Durbin’s office said a broader Judiciary Committee investigation into Supreme Court ethics is underway.

The committee’s investigation was prompted by reports in ProPublica and other media outlets that Thomas and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. took expensive trips without disclosing them in recent years. Crow also paid college tuition for a relative of Thomas’s and bought the judge’s mother’s house.

“It is astonishing that at this late date, revelations continue to emerge of gifts made to Judge Thomas that he never disclosed,” said Steven Lubet, a professor and expert in judicial ethics at the University of Texas Law School. Northwestern University.

Aaron Schaffer contributed to this report.

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