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Politico: Dems revive calls for Clarence Thomas resignation, SCOTUS ethics reforms after new ProPublica report

Aug 10, 2023

Following Propublica’s new report exposing Justice Clarence Thomas’ extensive luxury travels subsidized by billionaires, Democrats are renewing calls for his resignation and passage of the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act.

Click here to read End Citizens United // Let America Vote’s statement echoing these calls.

Politico: Dems revive calls for Clarence Thomas resignation, SCOTUS ethics reforms after new ProPublica report

Andrew Zhang

Democratic lawmakers revived their calls for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign from his position Thursday after a new ProPublica report revealed he had taken more unreported luxury vacations funded by billionaires than was previously known.

“Justice Thomas has brought shame upon himself and the United States Supreme Court with his acceptance of massive, repeated and undisclosed gifts,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “No government official, elected or unelected, could ethically or legally accept gifts of that scale. He should resign immediately.”

As the high court continues to see record-low public approval and a Democratic-led effort to impose ethics reforms, ProPublica reported Thursday that wealthy benefactors have gifted Thomas at least 38 destination vacations, 26 private jet flights, multiple VIP passes to sporting events and two resort stays during his time on the court — a higher number of billionaire benefactors than was previously reported. Ethics experts, ProPublica reported, said the failure to disclose travel and sports could amount to a legal violation.

“While some of the hospitality, such as stays in personal homes, may not have required disclosure, Thomas appears to have violated the law by failing to disclose flights, yacht cruises and expensive sports tickets, according to ethics experts,” the report says.

At least four other House Democrats also called for Thomas’ resignation, including Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Bill Pascrell (D-N.J), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.).

“Unprecedented. Stunning. Disgusting. The height of hypocrisy to wear the robes of a #SCOTUS and take undisclosed gifts from billionaires who benefit from your decisions,” Jayapal posted on X. “Resign.”

The Supreme Court’s Public Information Office did not immediately respond to POLITICO’s request for comment.

Democrats in the Senate have attempted to push legislation that would reform the Supreme Court’s ethical guidelines in an effort to increase transparency. That bill has passed committee but is unlikely to get through a full Senate.

“I said it would get worse; it will keep getting worse,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who helped spearhead the bill, said on X in response to Thursday’s report.

“The latest ProPublica revelation of unreported lavish gifts to Justice Clarence Thomas makes it clear: these are not merely ethical lapses,” Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin wrote on X. “This is a shameless lifestyle underwritten for years by a gaggle of fawning billionaires.”

The ProPublica report builds on the outlet’s work that has unveiled an array of unreported gifts Thomas has received from wealthy benefactors and generated questions around the court’s ethical guidelines. The publication has reported that Thomas accepted regular luxury vacations, trips on private jets and yachts, as well as thousands in tuition dollars for his relative from Texas billionaire Harlan Crow.

In response to reports about accepting luxury vacations in April, Thomas stated that he received guidance that personal hospitality from friends without business before the court did not need to be reported.