U.S. Supreme Court

Billionaire friend paid private school tuition for nephew of Justice Thomas

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GettyImages-Clarence Thomas October 2022

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas poses for an official portrait in the Supreme Court building Oct. 7, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The grandnephew of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas attended two years of private boarding schools thanks to the generosity of Thomas’ billionaire friend and Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, according to a statement provided to ProPublica.

The grandnephew is Mark Martin, who attended the Randolph-Macon Academy in Virginia, Crow’s alma mater, and then the Hidden Lake Academy in Georgia, ProPublica reports.

Tuition for the two years would have amounted to about $100,000, based on fees charged at the time, according to the article.

Crow did not pay tuition for other years that Martin attended the Randolph-Macon Academy, according to the statement. At one point, Thomas sold his prized Corvette to pay for a year of his tuition, Martin told ProPublica.

Crow has also paid for luxury travel for Thomas and purchased property partly owned by Thomas.

Thomas had legal custody of Martin since he was 6 years old. Thomas did not report the tuition payments, even though he reported receiving $5,000 for Martin’s education from another friend several years earlier.

Lawyer Mark Paoletta, who is friends with Thomas, said in the statement Thomas and his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, agreed to take in Martin in 1997, “much as Justice Thomas’ grandparents had done for him and his brother in 1955.”

The statement said Crow had provided financial support to the Randolph-Macon Academy since the 1980s and had provided scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Crow made the tuition payments for Martin directly to the two schools.

The statement said the tuition payments were not a reportable gift to a dependent child under the Ethics in Government Act because the law defines a dependent child as a son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter.

Thomas never asked Crow to pay the tuition, the statement said.

“And neither Harlan Crow, nor his company, had any business before the Supreme Court” the statement said.

Martin is now in his 30s. He told ProPublica that he wasn’t aware that Crow made the tuition payments, but he thinks that there was no ulterior motive.

“I think his intentions behind everything is just a friend and just a good person,” Martin said.

Paoletta’s statement called the ProPublica story “malicious.”

“The Thomases love their greatnephew. It is despicable that the press has dragged him into their effort to smear Justice Thomas,” the statement said. The ProPublica story “shows nothing except for the fact that the Thomases and the Crows are kind, generous and loving people who tried to help this young man.”

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “BigLaw CEO bought property partly owned by Gorsuch, who didn’t disclose the buyer”

ABAJournal.com: “Justice Thomas’ financial disclosure issues referred to committee of federal judges”

ABAJournal.com: “Justice Thomas listed income from a real-estate firm even after it closed in 2006”

ABAJournal.com: “Would a mandated Supreme Court ethics code violate separation of powers? Witnesses differ”

ABAJournal.com: “Wife of Chief Justice Roberts generated $10M in commissions in this job, whistleblower says”

ABAJournal.com: “Weekly Briefs: Justice Thomas responds to luxury trips story; suit filed over Idaho AG’s abortion referrals opinion”

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