Politics /

Senate Judiciary Committee Subpoenas Associates of Justice Clarence Thomas

Senate Judiciary Committee Subpoenas Associates of Justice Clarence Thomas

In a party-line vote, the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 29 authorized subpoenas for two associates of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who has been targeted by left-wing activists over gifts he’s received.

Thomas has been under increased scrutiny following several reports published in ProPublica suggesting he inappropriately received gifts from GOP megadonor Harlan Crow without disclosing them on financial filings.

Over the years, Thomas and Crow have taken several vacations and overseas jaunts on a yacht, which were paid for by Crow.

“The extent and frequency of Crow’s apparent gifts to Thomas have no known precedent in the modern history of the U.S. Supreme Court,” ProPublica stated.

However, as SCNR previously reported, the U.S. government’s Filing Instructions For Judicial Officers and Employees outlines exemptions to reporting requirements for friends as long as a gift is “commensurate with the occasion and the relationship,” which could likely apply given the decades-long friendship the two have had.

Under federal law, judges are required to file annual financial disclosure forms and are prohibited from accepting gifts from anyone with cases being heard by the court. Until March of this year, the judicial branch had not clearly defined exemptions for gifts considered “personal hospitality,” The Washington Post reported.

Thomas released a statement defending his actions, stating: “Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable.”

Following the Judiciary Committee’s vote to subpoena Crow and another associate named Leonard Leo, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (I-Ill.) said the goal is to ensure justices are bound by an enforceable code of conduct.

“Today’s vote to issue subpoenas to Harlan Crow and Leonard Leo—two individuals who have refused to comply with this Committee’s legitimate oversight requests for months and are at the center of the Supreme Court’s ethical crisis—furthers that goal,” Durbin said. “The highest court in the land cannot have the lowest ethical standards.”

The Supreme Court adopted its first code of conduct last month, long after ProPublica’s alleged ethics violations.

In a statement quoted by CNN, Leo says he does not intend to cooperate with the committee.

“Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats have been destroying the Supreme Court; now they are destroying the Senate. I will not cooperate with this unlawful campaign of political retribution,” he said.

Crow said in a statement quoted by the news outlet that the inquiry is “unlawful and partisan,” but vowed to “engage with the committee in good faith.”

*For corrections please email [email protected]*