U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Thomas' disclosure includes Harlan Crow real estate deal and private plane flights

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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. On Thursday, Thomas disclosed four reimbursed trips in 2022 and a 2014 real estate deal in a financial disclosure form. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas disclosed four reimbursed trips in 2022 and his 2014 real estate deal with Republican megadonor and billionaire Harlan Crow in a financial disclosure form filed Thursday.

Three of the trips were for speaking engagements, and Crow paid for a flight home from one appearance and a round trip to another. Crow also paid for a trip to the Adirondacks that included transportation, meals and lodging. Crow’s private resort is located there.

The Hatch Center provided transportation, meals and lodging to another speaking engagement in Salt Lake City.

The disclosure said Thomas took Crow’s private plane to a May speaking appearance because his security detail was recommending noncommercial travel following the release of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization opinion overturning the right to abortion. Crow also provided a private plane home from a February speaking engagement because of an unexpected ice storm.

The New York Times, CNN and Law360 are among the publications with coverage.

Bloomberg reporter Zoe Tillman had early coverage on X, formerly known as Twitter. Court transparency group Fix the Court has more details here.

Previous reporting by ProPublica disclosed that Thomas had traveled on Crow’s superyacht, flown on his private jet, and stayed at his private resorts in New York and Texas. The travel encompassed two decades. Other benefactors also provided free vacations.

Thomas defended his failure to disclose past free trips provided by Crow, saying in the report he “adhered to the then existing judicial regulations as his colleagues had done, both in practice and in consultation with the Judicial Conference.”

Previously, justices didn’t have to disclose personal hospitality provided by an individual for a nonbusiness purpose, Thomas said. The rules changed in March, however, and Thomas said he is now listing privately provided “transportation that substitutes for commercial transportation.”

Thomas also reported Crow’s $133,000 purchase in 2014 of three properties in Savannah, Georgia, in which Thomas had a one-third interest. But Thomas said he and his wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, put $50,000 to $75,000 into one of the properties—his mother’s home—which meant that he lost money on the sale.

Thomas said he “continues to work with Supreme Court officials and the committee staff for guidance on whether he should further amend his reports from any prior years.”

Another ProPublica story reported that Justice Samuel Alito received a free trip to an Alaska fishing lodge that was financed by two wealthy benefactors.

Thomas and Alito filed financial disclosure forms for 2022 on Thursday after receiving a 90-day deadline extension.

Both reported teaching income. Alito also received transportation, lodging and meals from the Notre Dame Law School for a religious liberty summit in Rome.

See also:

“No summer break for Supreme Court ethics debate”

“ABA task force recommends ethics and transparency changes for Supreme Court”

“Supreme Court justices should follow binding code of ethics, ABA House says”

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