Protesters call on Clarence Thomas to resign

Activists hold signs calling on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign during a protest in Washington, D.C. on April 19, 2023.

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Clarence Thomas Finally Reports Gifts He Says Were 'Inadvertently Omitted' From Disclosures

"The fact that he omitted the plane to Indonesia and the yacht... leads me to believe he and I have very different interpretations of his disclosure responsibilities, and that's a problem," said one campaigner.

Far-right U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has officially—and belatedly—disclosed two luxury vacations gifted him by a billionaire Republican megadonor as eight of the nine high court judges released their financial disclosure statements on Friday.

Thomas' 2023 disclosure includes food and lodging during 2019 trips to Bali, Indonesia and Bohemian Grove—a secretive, men-only retreat in Mendocino County, California—paid for by billionaire real estate developer Harlan Crow. The trips and other gifts for Thomas—including yacht excursions, flights on private jets, and private school tuition for the justice's grandnephew—were first revealed by ProPublica last year.

In his 2023 disclosure, Thomas claims information about the 2019 trips was "inadvertently omitted at the time of filing," and that the justice "sought and received guidance from his accountant and ethics counsel" as he prepared this year's report.

This fits a pattern: In 2011, Thomas attributed his failure to disclose his wife's income to a "misunderstanding of the filing instructions." In 2023, he said he "inadvertently failed to realize" that he needed to publicly disclose a real estate deal with Crow.

"The fact that he omitted the plane to Indonesia and the yacht around Indonesia leads me to believe he and I have very different interpretations of his disclosure responsibilities, and that's a problem," Gabe Roth, executive director of the watchdog Fix the Court, toldThe Washington Post.

The justices' disclosures also show that three members of the court—Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Ketanji Brown Jackson—received six-figure payments for book deals.

"Each justice would be capable of earning 10 times their current salary in the private sector, so it's reasonable for them to want to boost their income as authors, especially those with inspiring life stories," said Roth. "This may be an unpopular opinion, but I don't see anything ethically compromising about it so long as the justices don't use their offices to hawk books, they speak to ideologically diverse audiences on their book tours, and they recuse from petitions involving their publishers."

Jackson also took four tickets to a Beyoncé concert worth over $3,700.

"Justice Jackson is 'Crazy in Love' with Beyoncé's music. Who isn't?" Supreme Court spokesperson Patricia McCabe told The Washington Post.

But Roth said that "next time... Justice Jackson should pay for her own Beyoncé tickets."

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was paid $1,900 to voice an animated version of herself on the PBS children's show "Alma's Way." Justice Elena Kagan was reimbursed for travel, lodging, and food by Notre Dame Law School following a speech she delivered there last September. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh did not receive any gifts last year, according to their disclosure forms. Justice Samuel Alito was again granted an extension to file.

The justices' disclosures came a day after Fix the Court published a database listing 672 gifts worth nearly $6.6 million that current and former Supreme Court judges received, mostly since 2004. Thomas accounted for 193 gifts with an estimated value of more than $4 million that were identified by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

The disclosures also came in the same week that Congressman Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) introduced the Supreme Court Ethics and Investigations Act, which would create a Supreme Court Office of Investigative Counsel tasked with investigating ethical improprieties and reporting them to Congress.

A code of conduct officially endorsed by the Supreme Court last November was widely panned as a toothless public relations stunt.

Thomas' gifts from wealthy donors—and his failure to report them—have driven calls for his recusal from some cases and even his resignation or impeachment.

Responding to Fix the Court's database, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) noted Friday that former Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas "resigned in shame" in 1969 "over a payment that was less than a tiny fraction of what Clarence Thomas has taken from his billionaire pals."

"Republicans are protecting this obvious corruption by blocking any attempt to hold Thomas accountable," Wyden added.

Citing a "moral failure," the nonpartisan group Veterans for Responsible Leadership asserted Friday that "Clarence Thomas needs to face impeachment."

"Failing to disclose those gifts is an acknowledgment he knew it was wrong," the group added. "The character of the court needs to be above reproach, so he must be shown the door."

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