A ProPublica investigation found that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has taken secret luxury trips funded by Republican megadonor Harlan Crow for over 20 years, without reporting them as required by law. The trips include flying on Crow’s private jet and yacht, and staying at his private resort in the Adirondacks.
The report raised questions about Thomas’s ethical obligations and impartiality, as he has participated in cases involving issues that Crow and his guests have an interest in . Ethics experts and former judges said Thomas’s behavior eroded public trust in the judiciary.
Thomas did not respond to ProPublica’s request for comment. Crow said he has never discussed any legal or political issue with Thomas, nor sought to influence him .
Thomas has faced criticism before for his wife’s political activities, which include supporting former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Unlike lower federal judges, Supreme Court justices are not bound by a code of conduct that spells out ethical rules and standards. Some lawmakers and advocacy groups have called for a code of ethics for the high court, but the justices have resisted such proposals.
The ProPublica report shows why such a code is urgently needed. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the law in the country, and its decisions affect millions of Americans. The public deserves to know that the justices are not influenced by personal interests or partisan agendas, but by the Constitution and the law.