The Hill’s Morning Report — Democrats vow to investigate Justice Thomas

The Supreme Court justices need to adopt a enforceable code for conduct following a detailed news report that Justice Clarence Thomas received luxury gifts from a Dallas billionaire businessman. He also omitted expensive travel from his financial disclosure filings over the decades, Democrats stated Thursday.

They demanded investigations, stricter gift rules, and Thomas’s execution.

After reading the lengthy ProPublica investigative report about Thomas’s actions, Senator Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D.Ill.), he pledged to investigate and take action (The Hill).

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), called for Thomas’s impeachment on Thursday. She referred to Harlan Crow’s reported acceptance of gifts from a billionaire Republican donor as “corruption.”

Durbin stated last summer that calls within his party for Thomas to be impeached were “not realistic”. (Business Insider). The current Republican-led House will not accept any articles of impeachment against a Republican-appointed judge. The Senate voted to acquittal and impeachment of a high-court justice occurred once in 1805.

Questions about Thomas’ ethics surfaced last year when it was revealed that he continued to work on election cases after the 2020 election, despite the fact his wife Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist, reached out (The Associated Press).

“Thomas must be impeached,” Ocasio-Cortez said Thursday.

She added that gift acceptance without disclosure filings or clear rules is a negative reflection on Chief Justice John Roberts (The Hill).

Roberts has often lamented the public politicization by the Supreme Court. The court, which has a conservative majority, is willing to revisit at most one of its landmark court precedents to defy public opinion. This includes opening the door for states that have made abortion illegal or imposed sanctions on reproductive health providers. Last year’s leak by Politico of a draft opinion intended to overturn Roe V. Wade caused a shakeup in the court. The court later adopted the majority ruling almost unchanged. The leak was deemed “an extraordinary betrayal trust” by an internal court investigation. However, the source of the leak did not emerge.

Ocasio Cortez said, “Barring any dramatic change, this will be what the Roberts Court will be known for”

Thomas isn’t the only Democratic lawmaker to criticize. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), said that the ProPublica reporting warrants an independent investigation.

Crow stated that he and his spouse have been friends with Thomas and his wife since 1996 when Thomas joined the high courts. This was five years after Thomas’s death. Crow stated that the “hospitality” extended to Thomas’s family over the years was no different to that extended to other dear friends and that they “never asked for this hospitality.”

Thomas did not comment.

ProPublica reports that Thomas has been spending summers at Crow’s Camp Topridge resort upstate New York for over two decades. During one trip in 2017, other guests included executives at “Verizon and PricewaterhouseCoopers, major Republican donors and one of the leaders of the American Enterprise Institute, a pro-business conservative think tank.”

According to a judiciary policy guide, food, lodging and entertainment that is received as “personal hospitality by any individual” do not need reporting if it takes place at their personal residence or the family’s home. According to AP, this exception does not apply to “transportation that substitutes commercial transport” or properties owned by an entity.

Many Democrats in the House are looking at a procedural tactic known as a discharge petition, which would force the House to vote on high-profile gun reforms such as expanded background checks or an assault weapons ban. This is despite the opposition of House GOP leaders. A package of bills to advance “red flag” laws and fight ghost guns, ban high capacity magazines, combat gun trafficking, and extend the review period for existing background check, is supported by some Democrats, reports Mike Lillis, The Hill.

“All of this should go in there,” stated Rep. Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), senior Democrat, who is responsible for gun policy.