Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Amends Disclosure to Include Gift Trips

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Amends Disclosure to Include Gift Trips
Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for an official portrait at the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court building in Washington on Oct. 7, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has filed an amended financial disclosure that includes two trips he was gifted.

Justice Thomas, an appointee of former President George H. W. Bush, said in his 2023 disclosure that he “inadvertently omitted” the trips, paid for by billionaire Harlan Crow, on his report for 2019.

The new disclosure, dated March 15 and made public on Friday, lists one trip on July 12, 2019, to Bali, Indonesia.

The other trip was from July 18 to July 21, 2019. The location was Monte Rio, California.

A lawyer for Justice Thomas had said in 2023 that critics were wrong when they asserted the justice had failed to report all the gifts he received on his disclosures.

Justice Thomas reported only one gift for 2023. He said he received two photo albums worth about $2,000.

Eight of the nine Supreme Court justices filed disclosures for 2023; Justice Samuel Alito, an appointee of former George W. Bush, received an extension.

Reimbursements

Justices collectively reported being reimbursed in full or part for nearly 20 trips, including some overseas.

Justices Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett, appointees of former President Donald Trump, reported five trips each. Three of Justice Gorsuch’s trips were for meetings for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s board of trustees, on which he sits. He also took a trip to make a speech to the Federalist Society and traveled to Portugal for an educational program run by George Mason University, where he teaches.

Justice Barrett’s travel includes a trip to address Harvard University’s alumni conference and a trip to lecture at the University of Minnesota.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, reported reimbursements from the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation for a trip to present an award and from the Harvard University Law School for a trip to judge a competition and visit with students.

Justice Elena Kagan, another appointee of President Obama, reported being reimbursed for going to Notre Dame Law School to deliver a speech. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, an appointee of former President Trump, was reimbursed for two trips managed by the University of Notre Dame Law School, which employs him.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s only appointee of President Joe Biden, reported being reimbursed for a trip to Boston University to deliver a commencement address, to Alabama for a visit to a church and UAB Birmingham, and to a national sorority convention.

Justice Thomas did not report any reimbursed trips for 2023.

Payments

A number of justices received payments for teaching roles, and even more received money for books they’ve written.

Justice Jackson received an advance of nearly $894,000 for her book. Justice Kavanaugh reported royalty income of $340,000. Justice Gorsuch reported royalties of $250,000. And Justice Sotomayor reported royalties of nearly $87,000. She also received about $1,900 for her performance in an animated television episode.

Justice Gorsuch was paid nearly $30,000 for teaching at George Mason. Justice Kavanaugh made $25,000 from his teaching gig. Justice Barrett received about $15,000 for teaching at the Notre Dame Law School.

Many justices also reported dividends from stocks and interest from bank accounts. Most reported buying and/or selling stock during 2023.

Gifts

Other than Justice Thomas’s photo album listing, Justice Jackson was the only justice to list a gift.

She said she received artwork worth $12,500 from two sources, including artist Lonnie Holley.

The singer Beyonce also gifted Justice Jackson four concert tickets to an unspecified concert, according to her disclosure.

The Supreme Court’s ethics code, adopted in 2023, states that justices must adhere to the Judicial Conference’s rules on gifts, which states in part that judicial officers and employees are barred from accepting gifts from any people with business before the court, but can accept gifts such as travel expenses from other donors.

The conference says judges must disclose most gifts; in 2023, that included gifts worth $480 or more.

The conference also updated its rules in March to include reimbursed travel. In a notice, the conference said the update was made “to reflect past statutory changes more clearly and help ensure complete reporting of gifts and reimbursements consistent with statutory requirements.”

According to Fix the Court, a nonprofit that pushes for dramatic changes to the courts including stricter ethics rules, justices accepted 344 gifts worth $2.9 million from 2004 through 2023.

Justice Thomas received the most gifts, not including other gifts that critics say he neglected to disclose.

“Supreme Court justices should not be accepting gifts, let alone the hundreds of freebies worth millions of dollars they’ve received over the years,” Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, said in a statement. “Public servants who make four times the median local salary, and who can make millions writing books on any topic they like, can afford to pay for their own vacations, vehicles, hunting excursions and club memberships—to say nothing of the influence the gift-givers are buying with their ‘generosity.’ The ethics crisis at the Court won’t begin to abate until justices adopt stricter gift acceptance rules.”

From The Epoch Times

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