A Fair And Honest Justice? I Think NOT!

The teaser at the start of Jonathan V. Last’s newsletter this morning was: “Guess which Supreme Court justice has lavish travel paid for by a billionaire but never discloses it?”  Without hesitation, my first guess was Justice Clarence Thomas, and guess what?  I was right!  But even so, my jaw dropped when I read the extent to which Justice Thomas has been the recipient of lavish gifts and travel that he failed to report.  Read it for yourself … and I highly recommend the Pro Publica article he references, as well!

From The Triad

Jonathan V. Last

Sugar Daddy

There is no more important piece for you to read today than this Pro Publica investigation into Justice Clarence Thomas’s relationship with billionaire Harlan Crow:

IN LATE JUNE 2019, right after the U.S. Supreme Court released its final opinion of the term, Justice Clarence Thomas boarded a large private jet headed to Indonesia. He and his wife were going on vacation: nine days of island-hopping in a volcanic archipelago on a superyacht staffed by a coterie of attendants and a private chef.

 If Thomas had chartered the plane and the 162-foot yacht himself, the total cost of the trip could have exceeded $500,000. Fortunately for him, that wasn’t necessary: He was on vacation with real estate magnate and Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, who owned the jet — and the yacht, too.

For more than two decades, Thomas has accepted luxury trips virtually every year from the Dallas businessman without disclosing them, documents and interviews show. A public servant who has a salary of $285,000, he has vacationed on Crow’s superyacht around the globe. He flies on Crow’s Bombardier Global 5000 jet. He has gone with Crow to the Bohemian Grove, the exclusive California all-male retreat, and to Crow’s sprawling ranch in East Texas. And Thomas typically spends about a week every summer at Crow’s private resort in the Adirondacks.

The extent and frequency of Crow’s apparent gifts to Thomas have no known precedent in the modern history of the U.S. Supreme Court.

These trips appeared nowhere on Thomas’ financial disclosures. His failure to report the flights appears to violate a law passed after Watergate that requires justices, judges, members of Congress and federal officials to disclose most gifts, two ethics law experts said. He also should have disclosed his trips on the yacht, these experts said.

Read the whole thing.

Every last word.

The least important aspect of this story is the hypocrisy. But we’re going to dwell on it for a moment anyway. Because I can’t stop myself.

Here’s another line from the story:

In Thomas’ public appearances over the years, he has presented himself as an everyman with modest tastes.

“I don’t have any problem with going to Europe, but I prefer the United States, and I prefer seeing the regular parts of the United States,” Thomas said in a recent interview for a documentary about his life, which Crow helped finance.

“I prefer the RV parks. I prefer the Walmart parking lots to the beaches and things like that. There’s something normal to me about it,” Thomas said. “I come from regular stock, and I prefer that — I prefer being around that.”

Who am I to doubt Justice Thomas. I’m certain he does prefer RV parks and Walmart parking lots to pretentious settings like this one:

CROW’S PRIVATE lakeside resort, Camp Topridge, sits in a remote corner of the Adirondacks in upstate New York. Closed off from the public by ornate wooden gates, the 105-acre property, once the summer retreat of the same heiress who built Mar-a-Lago, features an artificial waterfall and a great hall where Crow’s guests are served meals prepared by private chefs. Inside, there’s clear evidence of Crow and Thomas’ relationship: a painting of the two men at the resort, sitting outdoors smoking cigars alongside conservative political operatives. A statue of a Native American man, arms outstretched, stands at the center of the image . . .

I admire Thomas’s willingness to endure such opulence just to put his friend, Harlan, at ease. Because even though Justice Thomas would surely prefer a Walmart parking lot, Harlan clearly would not feel comfortable in such environs. And so Justice Thomas makes—routinely— the kind of sacrifice that true friends make for one another.

A man hath no greater love than this: That he lay down by an artificial waterfall at a private resort for his friends.

Harlan Crow himself is an interesting fellow. For instance, like many of the ultra rich, he inherited much of his wealth.

Also, here he is giving an interview to Harvard Business School’s Dallas club in which he offers some advice to his younger self:

RH: What advice would you give your 35-year-old younger self?

HC: It’s not as hard as you think.

No shit.

Look, I shouldn’t poke fun. One of the downsides to immense wealth is that it robs a man of the capacity for self-awareness.

I’m sorry: There’s more.

Crow also bankrolled a group that paid Justice Thomas’s wife a six-figure salary:

Over the years, some details of Crow’s relationship with the Thomases have emerged. In 2011, The New York Times reported on Crow’s generosity toward the justice. That same year, Politico revealed that Crow had given half a million dollars to a Tea Party group founded by Ginni Thomas, which also paid her a $120,000 salary.

We’ve talked about Ginni Thomas before. I’m sure sure this donation was purely because he believed in the genius of her vision.

All of that is fluff, though. The real story here is that the Supreme Court has rules about financial disclosures.

Thomas didn’t report any of the trips ProPublica identified on his annual financial disclosures. Ethics experts said the law clearly requires disclosure for private jet flights and Thomas appears to have violated it.

Justices are supposed to disclose gifts worth more than $415. Just Thomas appears to have used Harlan Crow’s private jet not just for vacations, but almost like a taxi, even using it for a jaunt from Washington to New Haven.

But don’t worry. I’m sure there will be serious repercussions.

59 thoughts on “A Fair And Honest Justice? I Think NOT!

  1. Corruption in politics is nothing new of course, but perhaps more blatant than ever these days. Our current government is still refusing to account for around £35 BILLION ‘lost’ in pandemic medical supply contracts that were never fulfilled. Guess who got all those contracts? Their friends and family. It’s that blatant. Why can’t we get the money back? Because most of it is lodged in tax havens abroad. Why can’t we bring the companies to justice? Because those companies are registered in foreign countries. And so it goes on…
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, sadly corruption in politics is nothing new, but the courts, and most especially the Supreme Court were set up in such a way as to avoid partisanship. Justices are given life-long appointments to they won’t have to run for election or please a political party. But, sigh, they are human and I suppose they are as susceptible to the allure of wealth as anybody else. Still, we now have an opportunity to show Justice Thomas the door as an example for the rest of the Court and any future Justices. Will we?

      I hadn’t heard about that scandal in your government regarding the pandemic contracts! We have some of the same here, where money earmarked for pandemic relief was spent by the states on other things. You’re so right … we need to bring them to justice, need to set an example that speaks volumes for the future. Unfortunately, we likely won’t.

      Liked by 2 people

      • In reference to government and Covid, I still want to know why governments had to buy Covid vaccines from the manufacturers, after just about every government in the world donated $100s of millions for Covid research and vaccine production. We paid coming and going, but I never heard a word of complaint. Somebody got very rich on those government funds, and it sure as hell wasn’t me. Goodnight!

        Liked by 2 people

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  3. No body brags about overnighting at WalMart, it’s not a cultural touchstone.

    If you can’t a truckstop or a rest area it’ll do when passing through, but they are one of the worst places to overnight: it’s lit up brighter than daylight, there’s probably more traffic than a truckstop and a rest area has a restroom. And these day’s there’s so many people living in RVs getting into a slot can be a lottery.

    If we were living in a Ludlum novel, or Forsyth, what would he have done to command such deference … ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heh heh … no, I’ve never had a particular desire to hang out in a Wally World parking lot, or even a truck stop. Neither has Justice Thomas, but I guess he thought it made him sound like just a ‘regular sort of guy’. As if.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gail and I have had occasion to pull into a Wally World lot or two, I am more than willing to say, back when we had an old Ford Vanguard.
        It’s not a great place, but it beats paying $100/night in some rip-off joints.
        But I certainly do not see Clarence and Ginni pulling into one. They’d have to fumigate their RV before they could sleep in it again! They would stand out like sore thumbs (because they would not be driving a 40 year-old Vanguard)!

        Liked by 1 person

        • No, I cannot see Clarence and Ginni even being in an RV! They live a life of luxury and seem to feel that is their entitlement. They are somehow better than the rest of us. Funny … I think Clarence hasn’t looked in a mirror for several decades and doesn’t realize he is Black. Oh, and that guy that’s been giving him all the gifts for so long … I read today that he is a collector of “Hitler artifacts” … says a lot, doesn’t it?


          • Not surprising. And he probably laughs every night how easy it is to “own” (pardon this expression, it is intended only for Clarence Thomas) “that Black sumabitch!” He will have no respect for a Black person! Someday Thomas will find that out — but it will be too late.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I think that Clarence Thomas hasn’t looked in the mirror and doesn’t realize that he is Black, rather like Ben Carson, the heart surgeon who served in Trump’s cabinet and stabbed his own people in the back multiple times.


  4. Can these vacations and spousal salaries be conceived of as bribery? I just look at the rules for impeachment of a federal judge (I presume a SCOTUS justice is a federal judge) and it seems they need to have committed a high crime or misdemeanor, so that includes bribery. These vacations, etc., sound very much like bribery to me, though it might be more of bribery to vote with a Republican lean rather than a particular case.
    Whatever, Thomas needs to be impeached, tried, and found guilty — and every case he ruled on needs to be retried!
    Isn’t that what they do with other personnel who are found to have let their biases affect evidence, and therefore affect trial outcomes!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Jill, it is sad that a group that is supposed to be above the politics has fallen in stature. I detest that the nomination process has become so polarized made worse by dropping the vote requirement from 60 to 51 in the US Senate. So, to gain those ten votes, the nominee had to be less strident in his or her views. I don’t want strident justices.

    Yet, going back in time, Clarence Thomas should have been vetted further. There was one more witness on his alleged sexual misconduct waiting in the wings to testify and she was never called. Dr. Anita Hill was the only one who was called and she spoke during the day with Thomas’ testimony in prime time. Ironically, Senator Joe Biden was the Chair who acquiesced to pressure from the White House and move the process forward. So, it is entirely possible two of our nine justices may be tainted by sexual misconduct. That should not be the case.


    Liked by 3 people

    • The integrity of the Court has been compromised in more ways than one of late. This one, though, is beyond unconscionable … it is criminal! You’re right about going back in time … I was surprised that Thomas was confirmed back in ’91 after the accusations by Anita Hill. I wonder if, in reality, it is only two … perhaps there is much we don’t know about some of the others, as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, Thomas pushed back with the comment that caused Senators to back down – he called this a “high tech lynching.” The fact the two women were African-American became less important, as a result, especially with one not getting the chance to testify. I recall Thomas’ wife calling Dr. Anita Hill ten years later asking her to apologize and reverse her testimony. Hill said she spoke the truth and was not about to apologize for such. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        • “High tech lynching”??? Good grief … has he been taking lessons from Trump, McCarthy, Greene, et al? Good for Dr. Hill!!! It takes a lot of courage to come forth with accusations against powerful men, and it is never done lightly.


  6. SICKENING! Yet … why am I not surprised? Both by the entire situation, but even more so that he hasn’t reported any of it (obviously, he’s found the workarounds). Will anything be done??? I’ll let you (and others) answer that. I think you know my answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, either, and perhaps my surprise is as much from the fact that this is just now being discovered. Or is it? No, I doubt anything will be done, but perhaps if the hue and cry is loud enough … ???

      Liked by 2 people

      • Democracy is dead: long live the plutocrats. Their sense of entitlement, their selfishness and their greed are making a wasteland of paradise. If it continues (and it likely will) it will be the death of us all (and them, too, yet they’re too short-sighted to see that).

        We can hope for change, but like you, Jill, I’m not holding my breath. This story is about just one vile creature under a single rock – and there are many, many rocks.

        Liked by 2 people

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